June 09, 2015

The FreeBirth of Arabella

February 13th 2015-

Subzero temperature day.The ground coated in a white,fluffy blanket of fresh snow.
Not the kind of day I would wish to leave my house,especially not heavily pregnant.
I am far past the day which most women assume their baby would arrive,but having gone to 41+1 with my previous baby,I wasn't really in uncharted territory.
I felt good,I felt ready.I felt capable,peaceful,intuitive.
Babies come when babies are ready,and my baby decided that approximately 41+4 was the right time.

I awaken to a contraction.
Knowing that it could very well just be a random contraction,I wait for it to go away and I try to rest in bed a bit longer before my children can't possibly wait any longer for breakfast.
I continue to have contractions every 10-15 minutes through the next two hours...really short contractions,but also very real contractions.

My husband calls on his break and I inform him that my contractions have not picked up,but seem to have spaced out since the kids got up,so IF I were to have a baby that day labor likely would not pick up again until later in the day.
I called my mom to inform her as well,since she would probably be helping with the kids if I happened to start laboring down during the day.

I decide to cut my oldest boys hair,as he has been asking for a few weeks,and what better way to help pass the time.
I begin to put on my apron,when a huge contraction comes crashing in.I grasp my door knob,amazed at the strength of the rush.
"Caleb,mommy can't cut your hair right now...please keep an eye on your siblings for a few moments"
I lose all sense of calm for just a brief few seconds and text my husband:
"I think maybe you should come home...I'm serious"
A shower was what I needed,so I took a hot shower...The hot water pounding on my back felt incredible.

My husband arrived home and took over most of the childcare duties while I rested.

Go figure,my contractions had spaced out again and were much more tolerable.
I felt whipped.I had no energy,so upon the suggestion from my fellow freebirthers,I had a snack of protein,fruit,and dates for energy.
It was a special moment:I sat with my (still) youngest,my daughter,eating dates and having the occasional contraction.

My contractions are picking back up a bit.I'm still not ready to call it (labor),but I am hibernating in my bedroom as if it is really my time.
I read a few affirmations and go into my primal mindset.
I am ready.My room is my safe haven.I don't need much to birth a baby,but I have all I need.
I tell my baby:
"I am ready to meet you baby"

I call it.

"This is it"

It's not going away until my baby is in my arms.
It's Friday,so that means two of my children are to stay the night with my parents and I don't want my husband to leave,so I call my mom to come get the boys.
We start to fill the birth pool.

My mother arrives and at this point,I am needing to really focus during my contractions.
I feel like my baby could be born very soon,so I ask her to take the boys back to her house and then come to help with our younger three so Matt can attend to me if I need him.
I lean in the doorway between my bedroom and the bathroom,staring at the door frame through each contraction.
"This is my baby being born"

I am not aware of the rest of the world or even much of the happenings in my own house.
The birth hormones are making me so very sleepy between contractions,yet so aware of my body and baby.
I get in the birth pool and allow the water to cradle me as I rest my head on the inflated edge,dreaming of my baby,watching the visuals in my head of life coming forth.
I nod off,dozing in and out between contractions.

I decide to take a hot shower,as my instincts are to be more upright.

After a soothing shower,I go back to my bedroom.
Matt has put Marlena in bed and I hear the faint sounds of my mom reading to Payton and Jacobi in the living room.
I start to feel like counter pressure is helpful,so Matt begins tending to my need during contractions.
As with my last labor,I lean over/into the birth ball while I stand next to my bed.
I start repeating an affirmation in my head during every contraction as I breathe:

"In peace,out tension"

It helped,so it ended up being my main affirmation during the entire labor.

I tell Matt that I think he should put the boys to bed.
While he is getting them tucked in,I have several contractions and I have to brace my hands on the wall or in the doorway.I breathe deeply,slowly,with great intent.Consciously sending oxygen to my baby and my body.
I pray and ask God to help me continue to have such a peaceful labor and birth.

Matt comes in my room and says that the boys are in bed.

Upon hearing that,my body kicked into gear.Contractions became much more regular and intensified.
I felt tired between contractions-even dozed off through many of them.
A contraction would start to wake me,and I had to move as swiftly as a pregnant woman can,standing up and leaning over something while Matt would press on my back and hips.
A few times,I took too long to fully wake up and I just couldn't stand up once the contraction was coming on.Matt would hold my hand and we would acknowledge "Waited too long"
Matt brought me a piece of cheese to help energize my body.I fell asleep eating it!

Matt seems tired from doing counter pressure,and I want to save his energy in case I need it later on in labor.
I decide to take another hot shower to manage my contractions.
I would turn the water super hot for the length of the rush,then fairly cool between contractions so my body could cool down.
My water hadn't broken and there was no visible bloody show.
I experienced a blissful contraction,one that must have been chuck full of oxytocin.
I felt so good being upright,standing and bracing against the shower wall.

"I could have this baby right here in the shower,standing up"

It sounded like a wonderful plan.I felt very flexible in regards to how I would give birth.

There was a lot of pressure.
I talked to baby a lot:
"Baby come out,come on baby"

I decided to get out of the shower and use the potty-and finally I had some bloody show/mucous plug.I think I actually squealed.

Matt comes in the steamy bathroom where I am leaning over our changing table.
I feel a ton of pressure and a hallowing feeling in my cervix.

"I could have this baby right here" I think to myself.

Matt asks if I want to get in the birth pool,as it seems like one or both of us must have thought baby was coming very soon.
I tossed the idea around in my head and decided that maybe I did want a waterbirth.
Matt added more hot water to the pool and I sank into a deep kneel,leaning my upper body against the side of the pool.
My contractions were coming about two minutes apart,and after one of them I said "There shouldn't be more than maybe 20 more.I can do that" (I don't know where that thought came from,but I had to say it out loud)

After a few contractions and Matt applying counter pressure,I felt a fullness in my birth canal.

"Hmm,maybe a few little pushes" I thought.

I pushed a little bit and I felt the "baby" coming down.
I pushed a little more,a little more and....

My water bag.
It was my water bag-the amniotic sac.

"My water just broke" I declared.

I started to feel shaky all over like I always do during transition.
I knew I would be birthing my baby any minute.How exciting.How powerful!
The rushes were coming one after another and I felt so much pressure.

I decided to give in to the feeling to push.

After a couple little nudges from my own pushing,my uterus moved baby down.

Baby was coming fast!

"I'm pushing,baby is coming" I said to Matt,while groaning.

"Ma,she's pushing!" Matt said,loud enough for my mom to hear from the living room.

I push a little more-one push,two pushes,three pushes..baby crowns.

I am still in a deep squatted kneel,and I feel my baby crowning.

I put my hand down and feel my baby-

Soft,wrinkly,vernix-coated hair.

"Are you OK?What are you doing?" Matt asks.

(He later tells me: "I was pressing on your back,watching behind you for a baby to come out!")


I feel baby's head touch the bottom of the pool,so I lift myself up a bit to give enough room for baby's body to be born.
I pant as baby's head and shoulders are born,never taking my hand off of my baby's smooth,cheesy head.
It's incredible.

I am catching my baby!!

Baby glides out of my body and I grasp baby and bring baby up to my chest.
"Wow,you are so tiny" I think to myself.
I lean back into the side of the pool,cradling this tiny,cheesy baby.
I'm in awe.I did it.I just gave birth.
It had gone so quickly once things got intense.

Baby starts gurgling and pinking up right away,looking right into my eyes.

"Is it a boy or a girl" asks Matt
I feel around.I even look.

"I can't tell!" I say in confusion.
Matt moves baby's legs and looks:

"It's a girl!We have another little girl!"

I gasp in disbelief that I actually have a second daughter.

She starts to cry that hardy,newborn cry and starts rooting for the breast.
We start nursing right away.Perfect latch.
Matt brings a towel as I look baby over,processing this amazing thing that just occurred.

"Do you have a name picked out for her?" my mom asks.

"Arabella..we don't know her middle name yet"

My mom and Matt make a few phone calls and I sit with baby.

"She is beautiful" I think to myself.

I notice some bleeding is happening,that I feel cold,and baby is not happy either.
I also notice that I have some good cramping and pressure occurring,indicating that the placenta is ready to be birthed.
My mom leaves after congratulating me and informing me that I did a wonderful job.

Matt helps me out of the birth pool and sets my good ol' roasting pan on the floor next to the birth pool.
I squat down and proclaim sarcastically:

"This is gonna be attractive"

After I birth the placenta,we lay baby down and see that the cord is flat and white and since cord cutting was our choice of action,we tied it off with the special braided embroidery string I had made in preparation.
Matt weighs Arabella:

"She's 8 lbs 6oz"

I had guessed she might be smaller than my last two babies who were 8 lbs 8 oz at birth.

I chose to hold off on measuring her length and head circumference,as I was both tired and hungry!

"I am starving!Please make me some food!"

Matt makes me "Egg on a bagel" and I devour it immediately!

"Another please!" I beg.

As I wait for more food,I open the towel we are wrapped in...Meconium!

"She pooped!"

Matt holds Arabella as I go to clean up a bit and put on a postpartum pad.
I feel great.
I have an Oxytocin high so big,I smile and contently soak up all the good feelings.

Knowing that I will likely experience intense postpartum after pains,I take a couple of Motrin and a good amount of AfterEase tincture.
I snuggle up with this tiny new being.

I breathe her in,smelling her fresh little head.
She still has vernix in her crevices and it's caked in her hair and ears.

Birth is incredible.
It's intoxicating.Life altering.

It's about connection.Believing in that which you cannot see.
It's about faith and love.

It's pure,raw,primal.

It can hurt.It can be sweaty.Intense full body work.

It's the beginning of such a beautiful blessing of the relationship of mother and child.

I thank God for birth....for which it has changed me and impacted my mothering,my life,and how I feel about all things.

June 12, 2014

A special announcement

This family of seven can hardly wait!
In early 2015,we'll be a family of EIGHT!!

February 12, 2014

How do You Afford Them?

"I want another baby,but......"

*If I could get a nickle for every time I have had someone ask me "How do you afford so many children?" or "We would love to have a large family,but we just can't afford it"  I would be able to raise two families*

The economy isn't at it's best,but it has historically been worse.
I find it sad that people are so heavily burdened financially that they feel having more children is unattainable.
There is a chance that with some financial modifications,it wouldn't seem so daunting to have another child to provide for

I have already addressed some of the financial aspects in two previous posts which you can find here and here....this time,I will dig a little deeper into where money goes/how we save and how the children have very little to do with it.

Keep in mind that I am still learning-some tricks I learned long ago from growing up in a frugal household,yet other things I have just discovered in the past few months.
Remember,some of these things may not apply to you or you don't find doable for your family...this is just what has worked for our family.
We have made our share of mistakes and received our share of ups and downs,but we keep learning-we are human-there is always room for improvement!

*Above all of these tips and tricks,I have faith in God to provide and sustain,so that impacts my outlook substantially.


I wrote more specifically about groceries in  "What's in my kitchen that feeds a family of 6 for $450 a month" (I still only spend roughly $500 or less during an average month-it's rough to estimate when buying bulk foods that last a long time!)

Bulk Foods
I shop at Sam's Club and buy what I can in bulk-keeping in mind that larger volumes of food may not get eaten immediately,so I am careful about buying perishable foods from Sam's.
Things like canned goods,frozen foods,boxed goods are best purchased in larger quantities because they will withstand longer shelf life.

I try to purchase IN season fruits and vegetables as much as possible since they are cheaper during those times...Apples/Oranges/Potatoes are generally cheaper September-February,whereas Strawberries/Melons/Asparagus tend to be lower cost during the spring and summer months.
I do my best to only buy what we will eat and make it priority to consume it all quickly as to not waste any!

Keeping it around
I can and freeze many fruits and veggies in different forms in order to keep costs down.
We freeze corn/blueberries/strawberries and can green beans/tomatoes/spaghetti sauce/kosher pickles/apple sauce.

This year I hope to learn how to freeze peppers/onions/squashes for stir-fries in the winter months.
It's a bit of work,but really worth it in the end for home preserved food.

Making it stretch
Don't buy more than you will use.Freeze leftovers if they might not get eaten.Only make what will be consumed.Buy what will get you the most for your dollar....Sorry,Cheetos don't make the list of getting the most volume for your pennies.
Keep that in mind.

Household items:

Cleaning products
I make my own!!
I use vinegar,baking soda,occasional hydrogen peroxide,water,and essential oils-in various mixtures to create cheap and SAFE household cleaners.
I have ditched all chemical cleaners and air fresheners-no more toxins-and I don't need to buy them anymore!
*I haven't yet made the laundry detergent,but I'm working on it!

Pet supplies
This can get tricky since we have a horse for a dog.No,we don't have a horse,just a dog the SIZE of a horse!
I buy his dog food at Sam's club,so I save over what I would pay for a smaller amount at a regular supermarket and he gets a few of the leftovers with his food.
*I am interested in a raw meat diet for our dog (he's a rottweiler) so if anyone is knowledgeable,comment telling me more!

Various linens
I buy washcloths/dish towels/bath towels all brand new,but on sale-and I save the old ones for rags.
When possible,I buy bedding at the second hand store.
*The children use waterproof mattress covers and a pillow and blanket-this way their bed is protected and soft,yet if they have accidents we aren't stuck washing a full load of bedding.

Paper products
We rarely use any paper products outside of toilet paper-and a few Kleenex during cold season.
I cloth diaper 95% of the time and we just switched to cloth wipes for baby!
The disposable diapers I keep around are purchased at Sam's club or store brand.
We don't use paper towels very often,just rags (old dish towels etc) or a wash cloth.
I get the trash bags at Sam's club and we try to repurpose boxes/dog food bags to put our garbage in.
*This year I hope to put in our own vegetable garden and begin composting.

Cash Flow aka BILL$:

We pay a mortgage.
And for the size of house we are living in,the mortgage isn't much more than most people pay for a house half the size.
It's well insulated and has dual furnaces-one upstairs and one in the basement which heats the main floor as well.
*My father was raised in a family of 7 children+ mom&dad in a dinky little house,less than 1500 sq feet.

Honestly,most people have to pay this whether they have none or a dozen children.
We have well water-so other than the pump running,no water bill.
We have electric...I try to do lots of cooking/baking at once to cut back on electricity going to oven use.We try to live in the dark-but because electric is outrageous and it has little to do with the children.
We have gas heat-and we wear warm clothes and do our best to keep the heat around 70-71 degrees.
*Our hope is to switch to an outdoor wood burner stove and do away with gas heat all together.

Again,something most people decide on with or without children.
My husband prefers to have basic television so he can watch the news and holiday programs-as well as occasional sports.
We have a basic Internet/cable package (I mean B A S I C) through Comcast-and we have Netflix.
We did away with our home phone service due to continued increase in monthly bills and opted for cell phones-one for hubby and one for me to have.
Our cell phones are NO contract and through Metro PCS.
*We have heard of very low cost home phone service-I will update as I know more,OR feel free to comment if you've heard of it!

Yes.We have debt
Even outside of our mortgage we have debt.
A car payment
BAD IDEA. (to which I will follow up on with a blog post in the near future)
Credit cards
It started with the idea that we needed to have an established credit score to buy a home.
So we each signed up for a credit card.
Then we *needed* a dryer,so we got another credit card.
Then a few offers came for credit cards,so we tried "just to see if we'd get approved"....and we did.
Then an injury/surgery/time off work.Those credit cards were used for groceries.
I'm not going to hide from the bad choices we have made-like many Americans who are in debt,it starts with a small snowflake and rolls into a giant bolder of snow and before you know it,"Kirsplosh!" You find yourself in the middle of the ocean of debt as a giant Iceberg.
DISCLAIMER: Our children didn't make our debt.Our bad decisions made our debts.

Personal care:

I have a blog post about this HERE.
We buy mostly used/gently used clothes or clearance clothing."Buy Used,Save the Difference"
And we are NOT ashamed...I think it's rather clever.
Clothing is rated as one of the top costs to having kids-next to housing and food,but it's really unnecessary to pay outrageous prices to clothe your family.I save any clothes that make it through each baby/child for the next child to wear.
Thankfully,I didn't grow up feeling pressure to dress a certain way or in name brand clothing.With my children being homeschooled,I doubt they will care either.
*And if they do,they are free to earn money to put towards more expensive clothing if they deem it necessary for them to have it.

The children and hubby receive haircuts at home by me...over the years I have gotten fairly good at it and they don't complain about how it appears.
I am blessed to have a good friend who is a talented hairstylist,so we get together about 3-4 times each year and she puts some highlights in and trims my hair.
*the money we save by doing haircuts at home MORE than pays for my hairstylist visits

Birthing babies-
That happens at home!
*And  really doesn't cost anything.

Feeding babies-
I exclusively breastfeed,followed by babyled weaning-which is generally when they just eat whatever we are eating,so no expensive baby foods!

Reusable products-
I use washable cloth diapers,nursing pads,and wipes.I also use mama cloth/feminine cup.

Health care-
We pay for health insurance through hubby's work,but have been fortunate to not really need to see a doctor.
We try to take good care of ourselves and treat/prevent at home.


Eating out-
A few times a month we do get pizza or take out for the kids,but we've experienced periods in our life where we looked back at where the money went and realized "Fast food" SIGH.
It's not good for you,let alone even $20 per meal adds up!

Date night-
Hubby and I make it a priority to have at LEAST two nights a month to just relax and spend time together.Usually we try to go out for dinner,but sometimes we stay in and have take out.We are blessed to have a close friend who babysits for a small fee-but I highly recommend if this isn't an option that you trade babysitting with another family!

Kids really don't need much to be happy....too many toys and they just get overwhelmed or the toys get ignored.
Our children probably have too many and I find myself sorting through them on a regular basis to "thin them down"
The quality of toys has become very disappointing,so we are settled on the "less is more,quality is better than quantity" mentality.

Again,quality has become a concern when we spend our money on something that only lasts a few months.
Is an iPad really necessary?A new cell phone when the old one works just fine?
I believe we all have wants and desires for "nice" things,but happiness isn't in *things*
We have gone through our share of electronics-most haven't lasted-and I feel that we won't be investing our money in much-other than maybe a nice camera down the road (though the one I currently have does the job)

All baby gear rolls downhill.
Cribs,car seats (provided they aren't expired and haven't been involved in accidents),swings,bathtubs-all get reused.

We are learning to do our own-hubby is fairly skilled at plumbing and auto repairs,and we do all of our own home repairs that are within our skill level.
We ask for help and advice from friends and family who are experienced in areas that we need to learn in-education doesn't have to be bought or even sought in a formal setting-it can be learned through those that are willing to share their knowledge,and often through trial and error.

To sum it all up....

Kids really aren't the expensive part of raising a family
Lifestyle choices are.

  • You don't need a car that entails a monthly payment-you CHOOSE it.
  • You don't need high end brand new clothing-you CHOOSE it.
  • You don't need an ultimate satellite package-you CHOOSE it.
  • You don't need that speaker system in your car-you CHOOSE it.
  • You don't need pre-packaged pre-made meals-you CHOOSE them.
  • You don't need a new TV-you CHOOSE to buy it.
  • You don't need credit cards,data service on your cell phone,to eat out every night....you make those choices...

And those are your choices to make-just like we've made ours.

It was our choice to have credit cards.
It was our choice to have a car payment,to eat out 3 times last week,to buy that thing that we didn't need.

Money.We need some to live,but I think it's unfortunate that we choose to need *things* to live.

I hear all the time,other women pouring their hearts out about how they have a deep desire to have another child,but they *can't afford it*

We all make decisions,and I can tell you that in many cases MONEY isn't what stops people from having more children.Unrealistic ideals or just plain preferences is what stops people from adding to their family.

Better choices about money goes a LONG way towards providing security for your family.
Every little bit counts.

It's about deciding what you really want.

I am willing to learn to be more self sufficient,more frugally minded.
I trust God to guide me towards making the best choices and providing for our family.

*Final note:
I am not an accountant and I am well aware that not all financial situations are equal.
I have been at the bottom of the bank and barely afloat at times in my life....in general,most people do with more than they need-and that is their choice.If adding to their family is what they would love to do,there are ways to do it.
And sometimes,you're just done having children....it's not my place to question what you feel is best for your family.



Also,check out Youtube for videos!

Frugal living

Grocery budget

Budget printables

DIY natural cleaners

Cloth diapers


Again,check YouTube for many tutorials and DIY tricks!

Clothing a Large Family on a Budget

People have this misconception that it costs a lot to clothe children-and depending on your resources and what you have access to,it really doesn't need to be that expensive.

Between hand me downs from siblings or friends,buying bulk lots off of sites like Ebay/Craigslist/local groups on Facebook,shopping clearance racks,and buying second hand,you can make your money go a LONG way.

My shopping tips:

I always buy these new-but,I buy them when they are on sale,even if it's a size ahead-and I buy several packages.
With lots of busy children,socks get worn out,socks go missing,and the ones that last through one child can be passed to the next!

I never buy new winter boots-unless I happen to catch them on *super* clearance.
Winter boots start at $24 a pair brand new-but my mother and I both keep our eyes out at the second hand stores for gently used winter boots-WHERE we get them for less than $7 per pair.

As for shoes/sandals,I try to get them on clearance,but am not opposed to buying used in good condition.My boys have always gone through shoes really quickly,so a barely worn pair will get as much use as a brand new pair!

Coats/winter wear
Again,I buy nice used condition.
The local Salvation Army has great deals if you pick through-and if brand names are a concern,they often get those in too!
I can buy a nice used winter coat for less than $9,whereas a new coat in the store is upwards of $35 or more.
Hats and gloves are plentiful at second hand stores-a 99 cent hat vs a $6 hat?
My children don't mind...they are always excited to get a new winter hat and they are aware that there is nothing wrong with gently used goods.

For the most part I buy these in *barely worn* condition at places like Goodwill,Salvation Army,and-my new favorite store-Once Upon a Child.
I buy the lower cost things in the best condition...I tend to buy boys clothing in plentiful amounts because I know that between our four boys SOMEONE will wear it!

My extra tips:

Buy used,Save the difference
I love finding really good deals.I primarily buy the kids' clothes and most of mine at second hand stores,and several of my husbands shirts too.

Fill in the gaps by shopping new/sale when possible
I buy hubby's jeans brand new,but only because men's pants are harder to find in specific sizes,and I often purchase a few items for the kids and I that I maybe couldn't track down in the gently used stores.

Buy ahead on sale
I buy the clearance items and guesstimate what sizes the kids will be in for the next season,again considering that a pair of jean 75% off is worth it knowing that someone will eventually wear it!
I try to wait on cute items that I *can't live without* until they have a 40% off sale at least,that way I still get it in season,but don't pay full price! (Kmart is known for 40% off sales on In-season clothing)

Buy layer-able clothes
This works really well with my baby girl,but it could with boys too.
Tee-shirts for boys can work in cooler months layered over a long sleeve shirt or under a sweatshirt jacket.
I can still put shorter sleeved/sleeveless dresses on Marlena if I have a few *neutral* long sleeve onesies or shirts...I buy in white/grey/black/pink/purple and those will usually match dresses or little short sleeve shirts on cooler days,so she gets more wear out of her wardrobe.
I also buy more skirts and dresses for her,so leggings work well under those to keep her legs warm,as well as BabyLegs and tights.

Hair accessories
Nobody warned me how fun it is to accessorize little girls....so I wasn't prepared for oohing and ahhing over 1000's of styles.
I have found that making my own is cheapest,as well as buying bulk lots of headbands/flowers off of Ebay or Amazon.

Hand me downs
When one child outgrows it,if it's still wearable,save it for the next child!
Even if it's not in pristine condition,it can still be play-wear!
I store all the clothing in storage totes separated by size.I have SO many baby clothes newborn-3T and most in really great condition still!
Look for deals online
Stores like Kmart,Walmart,Target and other retailers have sales too,as well as free shipping if you spend a certain amount.

Craigslist is where other mothers go to sell off the clothes that their kids have outgrown.
Ebay is also a good place to score a large lot of clothing.I bought four cute dresses for less than $10 with shipping.
There are often local groups on Facebook where parents list their kids outgrown clothes.

Comfy lounge clothes can count as pajamas
My children don't mind wearing either the clothes they wore that day (provided they didn't get too soiled!) or just comfy parts of their wardrobe-like sweat pants-as pajamas.
I don't complain since it saves on laundry *laugh*

My cheap hauls comparisons (in like-new condition) to normal retail prices:

Carters infant 2 piece PJ's 
Used $4.42 for two pairs vs RV $18 (on sale!) for two pairs

Disney Pixar Cars shoes size 10
Used $2.50 vs RV $16.99+

Infant girls size 12 month holiday dress
Used $4.00 vs RV $24.99+

Baseball cap (youth)
Used 99 cents vs RV $9.99

Boys dress shoes
Used $3.00 vs RV $12.99

I spent a little more on Marlena's clothes at first...because I've never had a girl!
Now I buy gently used (you usually can't even tell they were worn) and she has a beautiful wardrobe
 for a fraction of what normal retail would have cost!

*A thought about buying used clothing: Some people aren't comfortable buying used...and that's their prerogative.However,if you consider that the first time you wear and wash something,it's USED.
If you buy from a retailer,chances are what you buy has been TRIED ON.

Again,it's personal preference,but I think buying used is a smart and thrifty thing to do!

And that is how we dress without it costing a fortune!

December 20, 2013

It's Just What We Do...And We Were Wrong.

My heart is heavy.My heart is often heavy.

I came to learn about the myths of circumcision far too late for my four sons,too late to protect them from the insanity.Too late to know better in time to keep them perfectly whole.

I write now.I write from the heart.

I write as the guilt washes over my body.I get chills in my arms and legs.
My nose starts to burn.
I can't see the words very well that I am frantically tapping out on my keyboard.
Big tears fall down my cheeks.My mascara is starting to moisten from the sadness falling from my eyes and my eyelashes are clumping together.
My fingers are frustrated,the words aren't coming together fast enough,profoundly enough.

My chest feels tight.So much weight.
I sigh out my feelings,my breath is trembling.Yes.It's trembling.

I am thinking back to the day in that hallway.
I ignored my basic instinct to rip my baby out of that room.

His screams.I still hear them.

How could I stand there and not go to him?!
It didn't feel right,but I didn't act.

I chose instead to stare out a window,tears streaming down my face.

Oh why!!!

I should have gone to him!He had been born so perfect!

He wasn't the first that had been sent behind doors....The lies were told to me before.And I believed them.

"Oh,he won't remember a thing" they assured me.

Does lack of memory relieve trauma to the soul?To the heart?To the mind?

"It's better to do it now while they are so little" they said.

NO! They can't say that they want their whole body!

"It's cleaner and more attractive" they said.

Leave it and teach him to care for his body!God made him this way.PERFECT,just the way he is!

"He won't suffer from infections like the intact ones" they said.

Leave him! We can prevent and treat just as we do with other parts of the body!

"It doesn't hurt now like it would when he's older" they said.

NO!!! He can't tell you that it hurts or to stop! He feels it! NO!!

Why,oh why did this voice of reason not come to me sooner?

Why didn't someone tap me on the shoulder and tell me "NO!!"

I should have known.I made a mistake.
I am SO sorry!!!So,so very sorry.

I had no valid reason for doing it.

I merely did it because "It's just what we do"


God made my sons perfect and I made an awful choice.
There is so much more information available.It's not taboo to talk about it.
Our children deserve it.They deserve to have us learn to do better.

Circumcision is devastatingly harmful and it can't be undone.
It is inhumane.
It is unethical.

It is painful.
It is permanent.


Please don't cut your baby boy.He will live with the damage done forever.
And eventually (having read this far) if you DO decide to cut your baby boy,YOU will also live with the regret AND the guilt.
And you can't undo it.

There is NO do-over.

I am begging you,mother to mother,parent to parent:

Keep your baby perfect.Afford him that right-that basic human right-to his whole body.

At this point you have no excuse:Someone has TAPPED YOU on the shoulder.

November 13, 2013

You just had a baby...why aren't you happy?

A new baby brings a lot of joy.
And sometimes a lot of changes that don't necessarily feel joyful.

Why is this?

It's estimated that around 80% of new moms experience the "baby blues"-short lived,temporary episodes of crying and feeling a bit blue.
It's also estimated that approximately 8-12% of new moms have more intense,longer lasting periods of sadness,moodiness,irritability-enough to dramatically effect their daily life and mindset.

I experienced baby blues with my first three babies for about a week postpartum I had post-birth moments of crying for no real reason.....just overwhelming happiness,confusion and hormonal changes.
If you've explored my blog much,you also know that I experienced a surprise with my fourth baby:


(you can read my other posts about PPD HERE)

At times it's too overwhelming.

Why do women experience PPD:


One might believe that only birth trauma-a cesarean section,forced interventions or a loss-would trigger depression,and those things definitely can play a role in how women feel psychologically and emotionally.
From my experience,a GREAT birth experience can effect emotions as well.
It can be so hard to process our births-good and bad-when we are faced with a culture who says "birth experience doesn't matter".
I disagree.
I believe that they way we give birth needs to be talked about-it only benefits us and others to work through it,to share and feel less alone in what we perceive our births to be.

The physiologic process of birth is often very disturbed:

Interventions and medications which interfere with Oxytocin production;a slew of events during third stage (after baby is born,during the time of waiting for the placenta to expel,and anytime in the first few hours after birth) which directly effect the re-connection of mother and baby.
In a truly physiologic birth,mama and baby are able to experience the natural effects of the birth hormones,leading to a happier and healthier connection.


The laundry can wait.The dishes can wait.Food can wait.
But can it?
New moms are thrown back into the fire with not so much as a blink.

Being a new mom is a lot of work,but we have this thing called "expectations" that can make it overwhelming.

I think that as a new mom,I feel this pressure to "perform" (if you will) and show that I can master it all.
I can balance a baby,a checkbook and a telephone.I can clean the floor,cook the meals and still keep my husband happy.

The laundry is always washed and folded,the surfaces in the home always dust free.

What I can't do is all of the above with a baby (and several other children!) and still take care of myself-emotionally and physically.

It takes time after the addition of another baby...babies are a huge master of time-well worth it-but working around the biological needs of a newborn isn't something most people can do overnight.


In our world today,many women don't have the support system post-birth that they need or deserve.
Healing from birth is a chore on it's own,let alone taking care of a helpless infant 24/7-not to mention if there are other children in the home.
In many cultures,there are mothers,sister aunts and cousins who-if not living IN the home-come by,taking turns to help the new mother with her household duties while she heals and bonds with her new baby.
Most of this ties into the previously mentioned causes-birth experience isn't important to most people in American culture,and the expectations are deeply effected due to lack of support.

It's essential to recognize that families weren't designed to do it all alone.

"It takes a village"


There are sometimes friends and family who-often unintentionally-put pressure on a new mom.
Comments of what she "should" be doing or pointing out her failures (not getting the laundry done or stressing how she needs to "snap out of it") only heightens her feelings of incompetency and depression.
It's important to see that most people who say these things aren't aware of the impact of their words or the seriousness of her struggles.


Stress from a marital conflict or family/friendship altercations can just add to what a new mom is already experiencing.
What a new mom needs is people to love and support her,gather around and say:
"You are on a new journey.It can be overwhelming,confusing,joyful and scary.What can we do to help you find your way?"
A new mom doesn't need to fight with her husband or feel threatened and alone.

There is a high number of women in America who experience domestic abuse-sometimes physical,but often it's emotional/psychological abuse.

This should be considered a huge factor in why so many women develop PPD.


All of the above can lead to altering the mindset of new moms.
My experience is that being unable to "do it all" and feeling so alone and unable to express my feelings about my birth,led to a lot of negative self talk.
I put so much pressure on myself and when unable to perform,I mentally called myself out.

"What's wrong with you?Other mom's do it!"
"If you can't handle this,you shouldn't have any more babies!"
"You stay at home,this is your job!"

The list goes on and on.
Negative self talk is so effective at making yourself feel like crap-which is why it does so much damage.

An overall view of why these things effect new moms so easily:

Childbirth opens up a window of vulnerability.
The hormones released during and post-birth enable a woman to embrace motherhood with a vengeance,protecting and loving her new baby with everything she is.
We know that loving someone and bonding with them takes vulnerability-and a new baby is no exception.
The postpartum period causes a woman to have no choice but to be more sensitive to life.
Sadly-and so unfortunately-events and outside expectations wreck havoc on a woman at this vulnerable time.
It's cultural abuse.

I am calling it what it is.

Women alone are not to blame for postpartum depression.
I am tired of hearing that it's merely emotionally,psychologically or hormonally driven to feel depressed after childbirth.

It's a cause and effect:

  • Woman has a baby.
  • Woman becomes vulnerable.
  • Woman doesn't receive support.
  • Babies are a lot of work and bring changes.
  • Woman doesn't meet her own expectations or those of others.
  • Woman experiences negative self talk.
  • Woman gets depressed.

PPD effects more women than we think because many (like I did for a long time) keep quiet,plaster on a smile for charms sake and struggle silently.
For the women reading this who relate:

It's not you.  

Or at least it's not ALL you.
It's the world deserting new moms nearly before they birth their placenta.

But we aren't going to be victims.

We don't have to be.

There are various ways to fight it:

Know about it beforehand-
Understand that you will be vulnerable and talk to your family about it.
Tell them that you will need their support to help you find your feet once your new baby arrives.
Ask your husband to stay connected with your needs and let him know that you might not do all the things you normally do in the time manner he is used to....he'll survive,but it will help you both to understand you need time to get a routine going again.

Check into having your placenta encapsulated-
I wish I would have done this with my fourth baby.It has really helped since having baby #5.

Get support-
Find online groups of like-minded women where you can go to share what you feel.
I am a part of an unassisted group of women and we are actually very close.
Maybe join a breastfeeding group or stay at home moms group.

Don't forget your in-real-life relationships-
If you can open up to your mother or a close friend,do it as soon as you start to feel not-yourself,anxious or depressed.
I made the mistake of holding it all in and it slowly ate away at my self esteem.

Seek out groups of women who have experienced PPD-
There are forums,groups on Facebook and bloggers like myself.
It helps just to know you aren't alone,but you can also try some of their tricks to feeling better.

There are natural treatment options-
I used Hylands Calm,Fish Oil and Magnesium for a while.
Do your research-these things can help many women.

Meditation and prayer-
Praying and taking time to quiet my mind really helped me.

Take time for you-
Motherhood can make it easy to forget about yourself-you lose yourself in doing for others (which can be rewarding,but don't lose your individuality!)
Make time to do your nails,curl your hair,go to a movie with a friend....or all of the above if you really want to go all out!
Sometimes it's the little things-like reading a good book or watching a favorite show.

Try counseling-
I went to a therapist for a while.
I cried and cried,and I dumped all of my thoughts out to an unbiased person.
This can really help when you don't feel anyone else understands and you need professional guidance.

This can also open up the access to Medication-
I opted not to go the medication route,but if you feel you need to explore your options,it's there.

"Whether you think you can or can't, you're right."

Stop the negative self talk.

We can control what we think-so perceive yourself as trying.
As Amazing.As a loving mother.As imperfectly perfect.

Marlena and I-8 hours post birth

I am doing my best. 
Doing my best to be a loving mother. 
Doing my best to be a loving wife. 
Doing my best to love myself.

October 09, 2013

My Homemade Applesauce & Canning

When I was growing up my mother canned.A Lot.
We spent all summer and early fall preserving all sorts of fruits and vegetables.

I never tasted applesauce from the store until I was an adult-and I could tell why my mom chose to can her own!

This year our family took a trip out to Shultz Fruitridge Farms for some apple picking.
The boy's had a blast running through the orchard,ducking under the apple trees,and sampling different varieties of fresh,crisp,juicy apples.

This was followed by a run through the "pumpkin patch" and fresh pumpkin spice donuts with apple cider.

I think the most fun part of canning applesauce (other than tasting it!) is going out with the kids to pick the apples.

A few years ago my mother discovered a apple mix that made beautiful,sweet applesauce.

The mixture contains:
1/2 Cortlands
1/4 Jonathon's
1/4 mix of Red and Yellow Delicious

You can use whatever apples you want,but the end result in taste and color will depend on the apples used.

Rinse the apples off

Core and slice-cook the sliced apples on Med/High for about an hour +/- until soft and mushy

Run the cooked apples through a strainer -I have a Victorio Strainer

You can add sugar/cinnamon to taste-although,I made the mistake of not tasting the sauce prior to adding sugar to my first batch.It turns out the sauce was sweet enough on it's own,so I didn't add sugar to subsequent batches

Clean the jars

Fill the jars and put them in a "waterbath" using a canner for 20 minutes,then remove and tighten/check lids