Pregnancy Update: 16 Weeks

16-week-belly

Despite the fact that I've known I'm pregnant for two and a half months, have spent the bulk of that time either sick, tired or both, and am developing a nice little baby belly, I still don't really feel pregnant (don't worry- I'm pretty sure that I am! :)

I think one of the things that has made this pregnancy feel so different from my last two is that my heart and hands are so much more full, with two little ones to care for already. Trying to take care of the needs of my children, my husband, and my home (not to mention, participating in other relationships, church fellowship, and maintaining my blog and completing an ebook) just has me so occupied that I find pregnancy sometimes get relegated to the back of my mind, strange as that may seem.

The person in the house who is probably the most excited about and continually talking about the new baby is actually Abbie! She loves to pray for our new baby, to kiss my belly, to pour me glasses of water "to keep our baby healthy" and just to remind me of the precious gift coming our way!

I am starting to become more aware, though, and increasingly excited, now that I am feeling well most days and starting to regain more of my energy. I've felt the first few teensy, fluttery movements and I know that as they increase in intensity and frequency, I will have a wonderful and constant reminder of this sweet new person that we will be meeting in about 5 1/2 months!

I do definitely have a belly and am starting to show obviously to others. I took advantage of some Christmas and birthday money (thanks Nana!) and all the after-Christmas sales to stock up on some shirts that have worked well for the transitional time before I move into maternity clothes. There are many styles right now with empire waists or that are simply loose enough to accommodate a still-small but expanding belly for a little while (and will fit again after baby is born).

For bottoms, I've been wearing the small selection of "larger" pants that I keep set aside for the early months and also for after baby comes, although just this week I am finding that these aren't cutting it anymore either (even with elastic bands), so I've just pulled out all of my true maternity pants. Sigh… :) Guess that's how it goes with baby #3!

I've had a couple of appointments with my dear midwife, Anne. She delivered both of our other children, and feels like a family friend. It's always a blessing to spend a little while with her, just talking over concerns, getting suggestions, and just recently, hearing the baby's heartbeat! We are preparing for another homebirth, and I am really looking forward to it, August heat and all!

Now that I am able to eat and cook more freely, I've been working hard to add in many more fresh fruits and veggies to my diet (fiber!), to keep up with my Cod Liver Oil, B vitamins and Calcium/Magnesium supps, and to increase my protein and iron consumption (I loosely follow the Bradley method and aim for 80-100 grams of protein per day). My appetite is increasing, though the heartburn still attacks from time to time, and I am trying to make every bite count, nutritionally speaking.

My main complaint right now would be the fatigue that I can't quite kick. I've had several Vitamin B shots in the past few weeks, and those have really made a difference, in my nausea and heartburn as well as in my energy levels. However, it doesn't feel like quite enough. I'm planning to try to up the iron in my diet, as well as add in an iron supplement for a month or two, and see if that does the trick to deal with this fatigue (my iron supplement of choice is Floradix liquid iron, which I am going out to buy today- yay!).

And that's about it- I wish I could tell you about the plans I have to start preparing for baby, but right now I'm still working hard to get back on track with my cooking and cleaning and just getting through the day without needing a nap! :) Really, no matter how tired I am or whether I'm struggling to accomplish all that's on my to-do list, I feel so blessed to be pregnant and so thankful for this new addition to our family!

Any other pregnant mamas out there? Where are you at in your pregnancies and how are they going so far?

Spring gardening, here we come!

Last Friday, we had an exciting morning- we planted the first of our little seedlings, set to go in our garden sometime next month!

A good friend and her son joined us, as they don't have their own garden but are eager to keep up the skills they have and get in more gardening practice, so you might see them around in my garden photos this summer. :)

Seeds-soaking-in-cups

Here are all the seeds, soaking the night before. I like to soak my seeds before I plant them, as this helps them to germinate a bit faster (good for impatient gardeners like myself!) and I also wonder if it helps us to achieve a higher germination rate (this part is merely speculative). It does make them a bit more difficult to handle when putting into the pots, but I still feel like it's worth it.

Kids-putting-dirt-in-cups

I got my peat pots and starter soil from Walmart, and though I know there are cheaper options out there (like toilet paper rolls, newspaper, egg cartons, etc.), it was still very cheap. About $2 (Can) per package of 20 or so pots (depending on the size- small or large), and then just over $2 for the bag of soil that should easily handle the bulk of my many seedlings. $10 was a small price to pay for the convenience!

Me-with-kids-doing-seedlings

Oh look, Caden even found his way into the picture (he did not, however, think that planting seeds was fun. We'll give him another year.)

Closeup-inside-greenhouse

Look at the beautiful, colored coordinated arrangement my friend came up with! The other seed labels are along the front, which you'll see in the next picture. What you see here is two rows each of broccoli and cauliflower, plus about 8 different herbs (this year I'm doing lavender, dill, basil, oregano, chives, cilantro, thyme and peppermint, plus my parsley that's out in the garden already), as well as a few huckleberry plants, just for fun.

Closeup-seedlings-in-greenhouse

There they are, on the outdoor table that we brought into the family room and set up in front of the large window to catch the sun. My darling friend even cleaned the window and tidied my porch, in case you could see it in the photos- sweet, isn't she? I got this little greenhouse thingamabob from my MIL, who got it who-knows-where. I love it, though!

Just today I noticed one of my broccoli seedlings poking his little green head up through the soil! Spring really is coming, and boy, am I ever ready!

Sometime in March, we'll be planting these seedlings, as well as onion sets, carrots, shelling and snap peas, spinach, several types of lettuce, radishes, turnips, beets and possibly something else I'm forgetting about. Around that time, we'll also start all of our warm weather seedlings (tomatoes, peppers, watermelon, etc.) inside.

Where are you at with your garden plans? Have you started your seedlings yet? When do you plan to actually get outside and start planting? And are you as excited as I am???

My ebook has a name!

I'm sorry I've kept you all in the dark for so long, but I'm finally ready to unveil the winning name from the "Name my Ebook" contest!

Without further adieu, it is:

Healthy Homemaking: One Step at a Time

This was, far and away, the most popular choice in the polls! My own ideas for a name were a bit different, but in the end I decided that I have pretty clever readers and that I was going to trust their opinion on the name of an ebook that they would be interested in buying!

The second and third place winners, who will both be receiving a copy of the ebook are:

2) Keeper of the Home- Baby Steps to a Healthy Home and Family (Brandi)

3) Naturally Inspired Living: A Homemaker's Guide (Alyssa)

The grand prizer winner is Megan Serna, who suggested the winning name, and let me tell you, Megan is one lucky gal! I have put together a little gift package for her of some of my favorite items, in addition to receiving a copy of the ebook!

Here's what she's getting:

Dr. Bronner's Organic Peppermint Bar Soap

Dr. Bronner's Organic Pure Castile Liquid Soap Almond

Twinlab Emulsified Norwegian Cod Liver Oil Orange

Earth Friendly Ultra Ecos Lavender Liquid Laundry Soap

Earth Friendly Ultra Liquid Dishmate Natural Grapefruit (dishsoap)

Burt's Bees Beeswax Lip Balm

Burt's Bees Super Shiny Shampoo Grapefruit and Sugar Beet

Burt's Bees Super Shiny Conditioner Grapefruit and Sugar Beet

Hyland's Teething Tablets

JASON Sea Fresh- All Natural Sea-Sourced Toothpaste- Deep Sea Spearmint

I hope she enjoys it, because I know how excited I would be to receive a package like this! I've filled it with a number of my favorite products, all from Vitacost (which has great prices, btw).

So when should you expect the ebook to be ready?

Good question! Now that it has a title, the cover design has gone ahead full swing, and I am in the last stages of editing. I hope to have it available for you in the next several weeks! :) Stay tuned…

Whew… Keeper of the Home is back online!

For all who tried in vain to visit my blog this between Saturday and Monday, I am so sorry! A very large and unexpected issue came up with my domain name and site access, and it has taken the last couple of days (and too much $) to get it all sorted out.

All's well that ends well, I suppose. :)

I've just spent all my energy the last couple of days sorting out this issue, so I won't be back with a post until sometime tomorrow, but just know the everything is back on track and sorry for any frustration or inconvenience the downtime has caused!

PS For those who missed it, Living Simply Saturdays was up and you can see that post, Escaping the Technology Trap. As well, the Mr. Linky is open for anyone who had tried to prepare a post for the carnival and then wasn't able to join in, so please go ahead and add your link. Thanks!

Living Simply Saturday: Escaping the Technology Trap

Lss

I have a confession to make.

I hate Facebook. And I don't Twitter. I'm not on MySpace. I don't do Delicious or Digg or Stumble.

Why, you ask? Because for me, these types of social networking and bookmarking only seem to add more clutter, busyness and obligation to my already very full little world.

I'm not sure about you, but I find it enough to simply keep up with my email! I do write my blog, and I do have a select group of blogs that I enjoy reading a couple times a week, but I keep it pretty minimal and skip it if I don't have time. I don't generally get on the web just to surf, although I have been known to get a bit distracted from time to time and find yummy food blogs or gardening sites or online deals.

I don't own a cell phone. I do, however, own a pink iPod Nano that my sweet husband bought me so that I could listen to sermon mp3's and worship music when I'm out. I still prefer using a desktop over a laptop (but maybe it's because I'm just so sold on my Mac, rather than my hubby's PC?).

We don't care about having cable tv, but we do enjoy watching DVDs and videos sometimes. Even though I know they're not the best, I haven't been too concerned yet about getting rid of our cordless phones because I find them so convenient. I still prefer pen and paper over typing at the computer for notes, brainstorming, etc. but when it comes to writing my ebook, working on a blog post or fleshing out a larger article or paper, nothing beats typing a mile a minute and using that blessed invention we call spell check.

Why share all of this?

Because this week's chapter focused on the ways that we use, abuse and let life get cluttered up by technology (I'd give you a great quote from the chapter, but my 1 year old just knocked my copy of From Clutter to Clarity
behind the bed frame and I'm not quite sure how to get it out without moving the entire queen sized bed!).

The gist of the chapter was not telling us that technology is bad (a thought which I have a tendency to move towards, as I begin to long for the pioneering days of Ma Ingalls). My husband and I often get into the discussion over whether technology is really a harmful thing (my argument) or whether it is just the ways that we choose to use it (I have a feeling his is the wiser, more balanced answer).

Last year, I read the book Better Off: Flipping the Switch on Technology. I was really challenged by the author's experiment in living for over a year without the use of modern technology. At many times throughout the book, I felt so aware of the ways in which technology has negatively impacted us, and yet also so grateful for some of the technology that I use every day (running water, washing machines, cars!). The author's conclusion, though he chose to live with much less modern technology than most of us do, was that it's a matter of assessing both the benefits and drawbacks of what we choose to use, and ultimately, opting to use those tools which truly better our lives, which will look different for everyone.

All of my above ramblings were simply to share some of the technology that I have chosen to use, and also to forgo (and I'm certainly not the example- there are still areas that I would like to evaluate further). It isn't about whether Facebook is good or bad, whether we'd be lost without our cell phones (or iPods in my husband's case) or whether we use an outdoor drying line or can't imagine life without our dishwasher. I think it comes down to honestly evaluating our use of technology and whether it genuinely adds to our life and helps us to accomplish those things that are most important, or actually weighs us down and adds further clutter to already busy and hectic lives.

How do you feel about the use of technology? What does it look like in your life? Do you tend to embrace it or avoid it, and why?
_________________________________________________________________________

Living Simply Saturdays
are an opportunity to share what is bringing more simplicity and
purposefulness to your own life, and to glean from the lives of others.

To join in, post your contribution on your blog, then come back here
and add your link below. Please make sure that you link to the specific
post, and not to the homepage of your blog, and make sure that you
include in your post a link back to this post. Thanks so much!

If you don't have a blog, I welcome your thoughts and suggestions in the comments section!

Home management or meal planning software?

I have a couple of questions that I thought you ladies could give me some feedback on:

1) Do you use any computer programs that are intended for moms or for home management? Which programs do you use?

2) Do any of you use meal planning software or services? Which ones do you use (of have you used in the past), what do you like about them, and why do you like it? 

Thanks! I'm looking forward to hearing your answers! :)

Healthy, Natural Pregnancy: Something Fishy

Dont-eat-tuna

I was spoiled when I was a kid. My step-grandfather worked on a fishing boat (as the chef- can I just tell you how much we like to be invited over to dinner at his house???), and so my childhood was filled to the brim with incredible, fresh Pacific ocean seafood.

Though I no longer eat seafood other than fish with scales (that means no clams, shrimp, oysters, etc.), I am still a big fish-lover at heart.

You've probably heard that fish is incredibly high in good omega 3 fatty acids, perfect not only for the pregnant mama's health but especially for developing that sweet little one (omega 3s are essential for proper brain development, among other things). You have probably also heard that, very sadly, our fish are being contaminated by heavy metals and other toxins (especially mercury) at an alarming rate, due to water pollution, making fish consumption a risky deal during pregnancy. Both are true.

So just what is a health-conscious, fish-loving pregnant mama to do?

From EWG, here is an excellent guide to choosing what to eat for dinner:

Avoid If Pregnant

Shark
Swordfish
King mackerel
Tilefish
Tuna steaks
Canned tuna
Sea bass
Gulf Coast Oysters
Marlin
Halibut
Pike
Walleye
White croaker
Largemouth bass

Eat No More Than One Serving From This List Per Month

Mahi mahi
Blue mussel
Eastern oyster
Cod
Pollock
Great Lakes salmon
Gulf Coast blue crab
Channel catfish (wild)
Lake whitefish

Lowest In Mercury

Blue crab (mid-Atlantic)
Croaker
Fish Sticks
Flounder (summer)
Haddock
Trout (farmed)
Salmon (wild Pacific)
Shrimp *

Please note that canned tuna is absolutely a no-no during pregnancy. It's sad, but true.

Making your fish choices based on this list is a wise thing to do. During this pregnancy, I am limiting myself to lots of wild Pacific and Alaskan salmon (canned and whole), haddock and trout (with the occasional cod or pollock) for white fish, and that's about it. Of these choices, I feel good about eating freely and knowing that my baby and I are receiving the most nutrients possible, through the safest options.

Another excellent option for ensuring sufficient omega 3 fatty acids, as well as Vitamins A and D, is to take Cod Liver Oil daily. For those wanting to know more about the benefits, as well as put to rest any concerns about Vitamin A toxicity, read this article on Cod Liver Oil, and then this one with some clarifications on the subject. Make sure that you choose a brand with third party testing to assure no heavy metal contamination.

Do you eat fish regularly? Does this list of which fish to avoid surprise you? Any other Cod Liver Oil takers out there?

Ebook name announcement…

…is coming soon, really and truly!

Last night, Ryan and I settled on a name and I have also noted the second and third place winners. I am just working to pull together too many details right now to be able to actually get the announcement up, but it's coming. Just wait for it…

Financial Resources for your New Year’s Goals

Flying dollar

The beginning of a new year seems to be the ideal time to work to get one's budget and finances in order. Along with the myriad other resolutions we women tend to make (I will lose 10 lbs, I will exercise more, I will have consistent quiet times, I will be a more joyful mom, etc.), determining to establish a balanced budget, get out of debt or increase savings is often high among the priorities!

I think that, in light of the current recession, there is no better time than now to revisit how you manage your money! For those who are in that place of desiring to make some financial changes, set some goals or just learn to be better stewards of your money, here are a few wonderful resources that I just need to mention.

Good Reads to Get You Started:

@ Simple Mom
Zero-Based Budgets for the Home: A Primer
How Do You Budget Wtih an Irregular Income?
Keep Your Spending Tidy With an Envelope System

@ Money Saving Mom
Budgeting 101- Part 1 and Part 2

@ Keeper of the Home
Setting up your cash system- Part 1 and Part 2 (answers to some Q&A about how our family uses a cash system)

The Best Class You'll Ever Take:

@ DaveRamsey.com
Financial Peace University

This course would be one of my top recommendations for anyone- single, young marrieds, families with children, those in debt or struggling to make ends meet- seriously, anyone! It will completely challenge many of the ways that you have thought about money or handled money. It will give you the tools to get your finances under control, no matter where you are at. It will enable you to start planning and working towards big financial goals (paying off debt, owning or paying off a home, creating significant savings and investments, preparing for unexpected circumstances, etc.).

Totalmoneymakerover
We first read Dave Ramsey back in our first year of marriage. We were greatly in debt (close to $30,000 which was mostly my university student debt), and working hard to pay it off as quickly as possible. Through the management principles we learned, we payed off our debt in less than 3 years of marriage, despite having a baby and having me at home for two of those years! We are now working through the rest of the "baby steps" outlined in his books and course, including substantial emergency savings, long-term savings, education savings, and down payment savings. Can I just say how incredibly good it feels, to know that we run our budget and not the other way around?

To find a class near you, click here. If you live in my area (the Fraser Valley, BC, Canada), my church is putting one on starting in March, though registration is happening now (email me if you're interested- keeperofthehome (at) canada (dot) com). We are encouraging everyone we know to attend!

If you're not ready to attend a class, then check out Dave's book, The Total Money Makeover. You won't regret it!

Find a System You Love:

Ynabimage
Here's my husband's review of the one that we've been using for over a year now, and love to recommend to anyone who will listen. :)

You Need A Budget.

Though there are many great systems out there, and it's important to find the one that works for you, we happen to think this is an excellent software for anyone desiring to do zero-based budgeting!

Care to share some of your New Year's financial goals? What resources have had the biggest impact on the way that you view and manage your finances? Any others out there using a zero-based budgeting or cash system?

These are all resources that work-for-us!

Sweet Wonders- My Story

**Quite some time ago, I agreed to submit a story to the Sweet Wonders community page at Baby Purity.com. This is my story, of how we dealt with some health issues when our daughter, Abigail, was a baby. To read some more from other moms, make sure you check out the Sweet Wonders link above.**

Abbie-1-on-wooden-bench
When our first child was around 14 mths old, we noticed that she had been slowly developing little patches of eczema on the back of her legs and arms. Shortly after, this also began to translate into bum rashes, full of red, painful little bumps everywhere. It was awful. I had no idea what to do.

We first began trying to deal with the bum rash by taking her to see a doctor. Big mistake. He asked nothing, and simply prescribed. A little sheet of paper produced a vial of cortisone cream that sent my poor, sweet baby into crying fits of hysteria. It must have burned so badly on her sensitive skin. The only thing we could do was immerse her in a tub of lukewarm water with oatmeal until the cream washed off and the pain subsided. Never, ever again!

Instead, I got on the phone with my Mother-in-Law (naturally minded as I am, but far more advanced in her knowledge!) and we began to put our heads together and come up with a solution. From what we could tell, it seemed to be a Candida (yeast) rash. So how do you kill yeast?

We combined grapeseed extract and colloidal silver to give her orally, because both have strong anti-yeast and anti-bacterial properties.  We also gave her probiotic powder to take in her food, to help rebalance her intestinal flora with good bacteria to fight the bad bacteria. We used a naturally made (Burt's Bees) diaper cream to soothe her
bottom, and sprinkled probiotic powder (taken from capsules) on top of
it.

Abbie-1-yellow-dress
So did it work? Within about a week, the rash was much, much better, to my great relief. Within two weeks, it was completely gone!

Next, we went to work on the eczema. We took her to a Naturopath, assuming that there were likely food allergies or sensitivities that we didn't know about, even though we had been very conservative in how carefully we introduced new foods to her.

She received a Vega test, which indicates reactions to different foods, and we discovered that not only did she have sensitivities, but she already had a Candida yeast overgrowth in her body (something that most North Americans have, due to our poor diet and excess sugar intake).

The Naturopath placed her on a strict diet for 4 weeks, along with giving her some anti-yeast supplements and a very high quality probiotic. We took her off of nearly all grains, yeast, cow's dairy, sugar of any kind (even natural sugars), citrus fruits and strawberries, and a few vegetables she tested sensitive to (there might have been more than that, but it's been 3 years, so my memory is getting a bit hazy).

When she returned for testing after the 4 weeks, I was amazed to see that the Candida was completely gone, although a few sensitivities remained. To this day, we do our best to avoid wheat for her (though as she gets holder, she can handle small amounts), to keep sugars very minimal (and stick to natural sweeteners), and give her only raw, grass-fed milk or cultured organic dairy products, in addition to an overall very healthy, balanced diet consisting entirely of whole foods (nothing processed!).We have also opted out of all vaccinations, and completely avoid conventional medicine (she has never had a single antibiotic or prescription for anything, though we would allow it if there was a more life-threatening illness, of course).

Abbie-and-snake-slide
 The rash did try to creep up one more time shortly after and we immediately restricted her diet for a couple more weeks and put her back onto the regimen of grapeseed extract, colloidal silver and probiotics. It was gone after a week, and we never had a problem with it again.

Today, she has recently turned 4 and is incredibly healthy. She rarely gets sick, has had no outbreaks of eczema whatsoever, learns quickly, sleeps well, has boundless energy and is a joy to be with!

What's your story?  How have using good nutrition and natural alternatives to conventional medicine have helped your family to overcome illness and grow in good health?