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Archive for the category “Natural momma”

Another nursing story

I wrote my nursing story with my 3rd child, but my experiences this time around were so different and extremely hard, I thought sharing it may help someone.

I’m writing it for many reasons.  In the past I’ve been told:

  • Nursing is more difficult for some people, so since it’s easy for me, I shouldn’t judge
  • I’ve never experienced the feeling of starving my baby
  • formula is there for a reason

Let me say, and I hope this story shows, that I know nursing isn’t easy.  This is why normalization and support are so necessary!

I successfully nursed my first child, despite an exhausting labor, a c-section, and separation for 12 hours after his birth.  I confused self-weaning with being an active toddler, and we ended the nursing part of our relationship at 10 months.

I semi-successfully nursed my second child, but due to lack of support and knowledge, I gave up after 4 months due to my body’s confusion with an odd work schedule and haphazard pumping in a bathroom stall at work.

I made it through extreme pain, engorgement, and mastitis with my third child and had a wonderful nursing relationship.  It ended half-way through my pregnancy with his sister when my milk dried up and he self-weaned around 16 months of age.

So having experienced all of these challenges and having had a home birth and all the early nursing benefits that scenario gives to mothers and babies, I thought this would be a breeze.

It definitely was not.

Look at those chubby cheeks!

Look at those chubby cheeks!

She was my smallest baby, born just over 7 pounds.  She successfully latched on and suckled immediately, but after that we had so many issues trying to get her mouth open wide enough to latch on properly with my inverted nipples, engorgement, etc.  I decided to use a nipple shield to aid her latching, but that actually caused more issues with supply since we weren’t having that mouth to nipple, hormone stimulating contact.

Over the following weeks I found myself nursing non-stop.  I couldn’t take a shower without her crying the whole time.  My husband was stressed and tense while holding her while I tried to prepare meals.  Even with feeding her right before putting her in the car seat, she would scream and cry with hunger 15 minutes later.  We nursed all night. I took 1-2 naps a day, laying down and nursing her the whole time.

A rare, baby napping moment.  Usually she was in my lap nursing while I worked with my kids on their school work.

A rare, baby napping moment. Usually she was in my lap nursing while I worked with my kids on their school work.

My bedroom turned into the school room.  I could get her to nap long enough to bring all their work onto my bed, and I would have the kids alternate between working on my bed with me or working on the floor independently.


That big bootie was from cloth diapers.

And despite all the non-stop nursing, she was not gaining weight.  She produced a few wet diapers a day, but only 1-2 poopies a week (while that may sounds wonderful, it’s not a good thing).  She was getting longer, but thinner.  She was in the 0.3rd percentile for weight, and 50th for length!

And the worst part was having a formula sample that came in the mail sitting on my kitchen counter.  It was screaming my name.  But I knew that if I started supplementing, the situation would get even worse because I would be producing even less milk.  Thankfully we have an amazing doctor who knew that the solution wasn’t formula.  She supported my decision to try some supplements and try eating more fats and supply boosting foods.

I ate lactation pancakes (made with oatmeal and flax seed).  I ordered a mother’s milk supplement.  I started using fennel and basil essential oils topically on my breasts to boost my supply.  I could tell it was helping a little, but she was such an inefficient nurser.  I even tried pumping during the little naps she would take, but I could only get an ounce or two.

Then I got the flu!  I’ve nursed through the flu with my babies before, but I could feel myself getting dehydrated.  I was so weak I could barely hold my baby.

And I cracked open the can of formula.

And she drank and drank and drank.

An hour or two later she wanted to nurse, and I felt like I actually had some milk to give her since I’d had that time to build up some supply.  And she nursed well.

The next next day around the same time I gave her another bottle of formula because I again could tell I had nothing to give her.

By the following day I could actually tell that I was producing more milk.  She was almost 2 months old and my milk finally came in.  But what was crazy was at the time of day when I had given her a bottle of formula over the previous 2 days, I felt empty. Talk about supply and demand!  My husband was shocked, but I wasn’t surprised.

So I started pumping and giving her a bottle a day of my milk to keep her full and to keep my supply up.  I renewed my use of the essential oils and milk supplements.  It all worked, and within a week she was a much more efficient nurser.

But she still wanted to use that darn nipple shield.  I had tried for weeks to get her to stop using it, but she refused to nurse without it.

Finally around 2 1/2 months old I weaned her of it.  And my milk supply surged again! I was able to start pumping milk to store for later use.

She started napping well.  She started waking only once or twice a night.  She was so happy.  And she started gaining weight!IMG_6109

There are many factors that I think contributed to her slow weight gain and my poor supply:

  • I was still nursing when I got pregnant, therefore not building up those “maternal stores” you gain between pregnancies
  • I did not eat the way I should have to provide nourishment for three
  • While I definitely was not dieting, after her birth I wasn’t eating enough fat and protein to boost my supply
  • The nipple shield, while helpful, kept us from that needed skin to skin contact

I am now a believer in not letting a newborn go too long between feedings.  I used to think that a baby would ask to nurse when hungry.  But in my case, I think she never experienced what a full tummy felt like until that bottle of formula around 6 weeks old. And until that point, she never had the energy to efficiently nurse, thereby creating a good milk supply.

So here’s the list of things I would have done differently:

  • I would have worked right away at weaning her from the nipple shield (there really is nipple confusion!)
  • I would have started my supplementation of milk boosting foods and oils much sooner
  • I would have eaten more nutrient dense foods while still nursing my toddler and during the whole pregnancy
  • I would have gotten more supportIMG_1201

It was a learning experience I wish we wouldn’t have gone through, but I hope helps someone else.  We made it to the other side.  When I look at her now, I can hardly believe that just 3 months ago she was not getting enough to eat.

My Home Birth Story

I feel horrible that my daughter is almost 4 months old and I’m finally sitting down to write her birth story.  There are a lot of contributing factors (and I’ll be blogging about some of them in the near future), but for now we can attribute it to her being my 4th child.

I’m a VBAC mom.  My Natural VBA2C story is here: I Did It!.  After his wonderful birth experience, my husband and I decided to try for a home birth this time around.  And boy, am I thankful we did!

To anyone who lives in the midwest, you’ll know how bad our winter was this year. My due date with this baby was January 4th, 2014. That day came after weeks of early labor signs, modified bed-rest, daily contractions, and pure exhaustion.  But of course, no labor signs on my actual due date.

January 5th came, and along with it, regular contractions and a blizzard.  I texted my midwife to let her know that I felt like the day was today.  The whole snow storm I had fairly regular and uncomfortable contractions, but I took it easy because I did not want to deliver in the storm and make my midwife have to drive in the bad weather.  I made it through the storm, though this poor lady did it on her own.  Thank God she planned a home birth and had everything she needed at home already!

January 6th came and no labor signs.

January 7th around 2am, I woke up and felt my water break.  I texted my MW to let her know, cleaned myself up, and actually was able to go back to sleep for a few hours.

I was awake and restless around 6am so I decided to get up, take a shower, and get on Facebook!  I texted regularly with my midwife to give her updates, and around 7:30 I asked her to come with the bad roads.  Even though I wasn’t having regular contractions, I had a gut feeling (and I’m sure glad I did!).  During all this time, my husband was busy setting things up, and my 8 year old son was my labor coach!  I’d sit at the computer chatting with friends, and when I was having a contraction I’d go up to the counter and rock while my son rubbed my back.  My favorite memory of this was him rubbing my back while my 21 month old son was rocking next to me, mimicking my breathing!

Here's a lovely photo of me at 8:20am, right before my midwife arrived.

Here’s a lovely photo of me at 8:20am, right before my midwife arrived.

My midwife arrived around 8:25, and asked how things were going.  At that point my contractions were between 5-7 minutes apart, irregular, and nothing I couldn’t handle with my 8 year old.  She monitored me during a contraction, checked the baby’s heartbeat, and then I went to the bathroom.

While in the bathroom, I had 2 pretty intense contractions and was so relieved to be sitting on the toilet (and only those of you who have had contractions on the toilet can understand this sentiment!).  When I came out, I noticed that my midwife was not in the kitchen and must be helping my husband get set up in the bedroom.  I then proceeded to have 3 back-to-back INTENSE contractions.  I knew I couldn’t handle these anymore on my own or with only my son.

I made it to the bathroom in my bedroom and had another crazy contraction with the assistance of my midwife.  My legs were shaking so bad that I knew I couldn’t do them standing any longer.  I went into my bedroom and kneeled on the floor, laying over my birthing ball.  I immediately felt my baby’s head descending and called for Allison (my midwife)!

She came, started pulling back my pants to check me, and confirmed that my baby was coming!  My midwife was able to help me get my pants off enough to have access to catch my falling out baby!  To quote my baby brother “I had an accident in my pants, but it was a baby!”

Yup, you can still see my pants around my knees!

Yup, you can still see my pants around my knees!

That picture is timestamped at 9:15am.  Just 55 minutes after I was chatting on Facebook with friends about how I was excited I was going to meet my baby that day!

The best part was my shock at her being a girl!  Even though we were being surprised this time, I had convinced myself I was having a boy.  She was conceived around the time of my grandfather’s death, and her original due date was his birthday.  We were going to name her Horace Albert William after my grandfather.  But she decided she was too cute to be named Horace and wanted to be Lillian Lorraine instead!

Way too cute to be named Horace!

Way too cute to be named Horace!

My mom arrived minutes later (she stopped to get her tire fixed on the way!), and my second midwife arrived a few minutes after that.  They were both surprised at what they walked in to!

I am so thankful that we decided to have a home birth.  God really protected us.  I had grown up hearing the stories of one aunt delivering my cousin in the car on the side of the road on the way to the hospital, and another aunt delivering her baby with an unintentional home birth while the paramedics were on the way.  And while I joined the stories of insanely fast deliveries, at least mine wasn’t in a minivan in 5 degree temps on a partially cleared icy road!

And while the delivery was so crazy and fast that I can barely remember it, the bliss and slow-pace following was heavenly.  My kids were able to come in immediately to meet their sister.  They didn’t even realize what was going on, as I was only unavailable for 10 minutes or so!

We sent them out for a few minutes while I got cleaned up and assisted into my bed, but right away they were back in my room, sitting next to me, cuddling, and involved in the whole affair.

My little labor coach!

My little labor coach!

After we all watched her get weighed and measured, we all snuggled together.IMG_5616

The funniest part is that after all this, they were all ready to move on with their day. Which was perfect, because I was definitely ready to take a nap!

Why I Hate the “5-Ingredient Rule” | Butter Believer

This is really good.  It’s about food education, not food restriction!

Why I Hate the “5-Ingredient Rule” | Butter Believer.

Follow your body’s cues

Okay, this is one of the hardest health related posts I’ve written.  As a person with poor body image and who has regularly been on some sort of diet for a majority of my life, this is something I have personally struggled with.

You need to follow your body’s cues.

This totally goes against most of what mainstream diets tell us.  They all have the same sort of advice:

  • Eat lots of this stuff
  • Avoid things from this list
  • Drink lots of water
  • Ignore the cravings

Well, of course I have said some similar things, but the main point of my advice is to Eat real food.  Avoid packages, items with an ingredients list, preservatives, etc. Drink when you are thirsty.

But what do you do about cravings or aversions?

Eat what sounds good to you and avoid what sounds bad.

The avoiding what sounds bad is super easy.  I’ve never done many diets out there because I don’t like soup, beans and other things that affect my texture issues.  And many sweet foods just don’t sound appealing to me, so I naturally avoid many foods that have excess sugar.

The part I really struggle with and am working on now is eating what sounds good.

What do most diets tell you to do when you crave sugar?  Don’t eat it, be a martyr, use self-control!  And what do you do?  You can avoid it for awhile, but then you cave in after a week or a few days and binge eat.  You eat a whole package of cookies, or eat several servings of ice cream.  And then you give up.  Or you tell yourself it’s just one day and you’ll do better tomorrow.

And then we are told to drink tons of water.  The advice varies from 64 ounces a day to half your body weight in ounces daily.  I read this recently: 8 Reasons NOT to Drink 8 Glasses of Water A Day.  In most cases we are not following our body’s cues and are actually over hydrating!

So what is a Real Foodie to do?

The first thing you should do is listen to your body.  If you are craving sweet, give your body sweet.  I would start with eating some fruits to see if that takes care of the craving.  But if you are really wanting dessert, go for it!  Find some recipes that use whole food ingredients.  You can try out my recipes for whole grain cupcakes (no icing necessary) and cookies.  Eat one and move on. If a few hours later you are still craving sweet, re-evaluate.

Craving salty?  Nuts may be exactly what you are craving.  A slice of homemade bread with butter may take care of it.  Make some soft pretzels.  The main point is to stop the cycle of reaching for the normal chips or pre-packaged pretzels, find a way to take care of the craving while actually feeding your body.

And I’m learning with the water.  Of course your body needs water, that is what we are made of!  But if you are eating real foods, you are already getting a lot of water from the fruits and vegetables you are eating.  The main point is to swap out all the juice and soda for water.  If you are thirsty, fill up a glass of water.  If you want some flavor add a slice of cucumber or lemon, or try out some other flavoring options. Maybe go for a glass of full-fat milk.  Drink when you are thirsty and stop when you are satisfied.  Stop focusing on quotas and minimums!

Remember the words “is this feeding me, or hurting me?”  If it is hurting you then see if you can find something else, but if it is feeding your body, go for it!  If you are constantly denying your body what it wants, you are setting yourself up for failure.

And stop focusing on the scale.

The goal is not rapid weight loss or a perfect body.  The goal is balance and health. So eat what is not only good for you, but also what you are craving.  Get active.  If you are truly overweight, your body will slowly shed the excess.  It may take months for your body to realize that it is being regularly nourished and getting what it needs to function, and then (and only then) will it start to lose its fat stores.  And if it doesn’t you may want to consult a doctor about underlying issues.

Is there anything about this that is new to you? Is there anything encouraging you can share?

There’s only a few days left to join the 7 Day Real Food Challenge. Click here to join us and get the plan, recipes, and support now!

Previous Post: Start Your Day Off Right

Not all eggs are created equal

If you couldn’t tell by my post Start Your Day Off Right, I love eggs.  My family of 5 goes through roughly 4 dozen eggs a week! But I don’t just go to my local grocery store and buy the cheapest option there.

As a frugally minded person, I would love to go to my local grocery store and pick up 10 cartons of their $1/dozen eggs when on sale.  Or for a step up maybe get a bunch of antibiotic free eggs from Aldi for $1.50/dozen.  Or should I go to Trader Joe’s and get them for $1.70/dozen?

What is the difference in all the egg jargon?

Hormone free, pastured, organic, free-range…what’s a person to do who is shopping on a budget and yet wanting humane eggs with the best nutrition?

First, you need to know what the terminology means and what it looks like in real life.

  • Conventional eggs – those eggs you buy on sale at chain grocery stores are from chickens who are regularly kept in individual cages 1/2ft square.  No room to move around, let alone practice normal chicken behavior.  If you see the label United Egg Producers Certified, that means they follow these practices.  Please avoid these eggs if at all possible!
  • Cage-free – this label is not regulated.  It simply means that instead of individual cages, the chickens are kept in a large barn or pen.  Often these chickens have their beaks clipped so they cannot peck at each other.  While they are able to practice many normal behaviors like nesting and walking around, they are still normally kept indoors and have minimal space per chicken.
  • Free-range – This is another unregulated term.  All it means is that there is access to the outdoors.  Could be just a door opened to a tiny pen, could mean regular access outside.  It is often a marketing ploy.
  • Certified Organic – These chickens are required to have outdoor access, but there are no requirements in place for duration, etc.  Beak cutting and starvation to induce molting is allowed.  These chickens are fed an organic vegetarian diet which sounds good, but is actually not a chicken’s natural diet.
  • Certified Humane – While these chickens may be kept indoors at all times, there are requirements in place as far as stocking density, requirements for nesting boxes and perches, and provisions for chickens to be able to perform natural behaviors like dust bathing and nesting. While forced molting by starvation is prohibited, beak cutting is allowed. This is a regulated label.  You may see the label Food Alliance Certified.
  • Animal Welfare Approved – This is a step up from Certified Humane.  All the chickens must also have continuous outdoor perching access, and beak cutting is prohibited.
  • Other terms – Vegetarian-fed means that no animal byproducts were used, though this is actually not a natural diet for a chicken.  Natural means nothing regarding to welfare or diet, a marketing ploy.  Fertile means that the hens had access to roosters.  These eggs are completely safe and normal to eat, and this often means cage free.

So what are you to do with this information?

The main thing to remember is that chickens are naturally omnivores.  That means that they not only eat weeds, seeds and vegetables, but also bugs!  They do best on a varied diet where they have the ability to forage and peck.

And to be completely honest, none of the above labels provide you with eggs that come from chickens that are living the way they were intended to be.

The best eggs come from happy chickens.


A happy chicken is one who is allowed to practice natural behaviors: roosting, pecking, nesting, foraging.  They have a balanced diet of bugs, weeds, food scraps and the occasional supplement of grains.  They are sheltered from bad weather and are kept in humane conditions.

There have been independent tests showing the nutritional differences of conventional eggs to truly pastured eggs.  Pastured eggs have less cholesterol and saturated fat (yes, a diet of exclusive grains means more fat!), higher levels of Vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids, much higher levels of Vitamin E and Beta Carotene, and up to 6 times the amount of Vitamin D.  Did you know that eggs are one of the only ways you can naturally get Vitamin D other than sunlight!?!

So, where does one get these eggs?

The best thing you can do to ensure that you have eggs that come from happy chickens is to raise them yourself!  This is a step that I am working towards, but sadly my municipality does not allow it.  If you want to raise your own chickens, be sure to look at the rules for your area!  Great resources are, and  I also found an awesome blog series from Vintage Garden Gal where she shares her experiences and tips raising chickens.  While expensive, you can buy chicken coops on amazon, and also many of the needed chicken supplies.  You can also get books and other information to decide if this is right for you.

If you cannot keep chickens where you live or that idea does not sound pleasant to you, you can try to find someone local who raises their own flock.  Check with your friends or on craigslist.  Many people sell their extras to help supplement income. Be sure to talk to them about how their chickens are raised and what they eat.  I have a friend who sells hers for $2.50/dozen.

Another options is to check out local Farmer’s Markets.  Be careful though!  Many of these eggs sound great, hidden under the labels described above.  Be sure to talk to the farmer about conditions, size of the flock, their diet, etc.  I have a farmer who has the best eggs who sells them for $3/dozen.

I have to be honest though, right now I get my eggs by the case from a local co-op. They are $2.50/dozen and are under the label of cage-free and natural.  Due to access and budget restrictions, this is a compromise I am temporarily making.  But I can’t wait until my Farmer’s Market opens again and I can get the eggs I really want!

To get more information about animal welfare, labeling and nutrition, visit The Humane Society’s website and Real Food University.

Also be sure to check out the 7 Days of Real Food Challenge! Click here to join us and get the plan, recipes, and support now!  Also, feel free to check out my weight loss series where I talk about using real foods to help you Get Healthy to Lose Weight!

Do you have any more information about egg nutrition? Do you have any great resources on raising your own flock? Please share your experiences in the comments!

7 Day Real Food Challenge

Join the 7 Days of Real Food Challenge

As part of my eating healthy series, I thought it would be appropriate to join The Holistic Mama’s “7 Days of Real Food Challenge” and share information with you all so that you can join as well.  The whole idea is to try out, for seven days, eating only Real Food.  No boxes, no processed foods, and unless you’re lucky with a restaurant that serves real foods, no eating out.  If you can do it fully for a week, than you can decide to do it for 3 days a week, 80% of the time, whatever you decide.

Do you think you can eat only real food for 7 days straight?

To some of you this might sound nearly impossible and some of you may be thinking – I already do. This challenge is designed to help those of you who really want to live the real food lifestyle but might need a little guidance to get started. This challenge is also for all of you who have already figured it out, but you have fallen off the bandwagon. Sometimes life gets hectic and our diets seem to suffer. It’s never too late to get back into the healthy food routine!

So, What is the 7 Day Real Food Challenge?

There is a big group of us following this challenge. Everyone who joins this challenge is making a pact to eat only real food for 7 days – specifically on April 21st – 27th. Already there are 28 bloggers who have committed to this challenge and are here as a support team for everyone who joins us. Here is your support team:

Todd Dosenberry from Primal Toad
Amanda from Natural Living Mama
Erin Odom from The Humbled Homemaker
Janey McKeever from Consistantly Sporadic
Jaime Reid from Jaime Reids Kitchen
Anne Simpson from Authentic Simplicity
Laura Broach from Mama Making Changes
Mike Lamitola from
Alix from Blessed in Homemaking
Stacy Karen from A Delightful Home
Nina Nelson from Shalom Mama
Melissa Joulwan from Well Fed
Kimball Young from Heavy on Wholesome
Laura Prevost from Head over heels in Health
Victoria Moore from Yogi Mami
Carol Lovett from Ditch the Wheat
Katie Stanley from Nourishing Simplicity
Jami Leigh from Young Wifes Guide
Andrea from Homemade for Elle
Sarah Warren from Unorthadox Momma (That’s me!)
Amanda Anderson from Chef Amanda
Sara Roylance from Sara
Sara Shay from Your Thriving family
Jennifer from Hybrid Rasta Mama
Marillyn Beard from Just Making Noise
Nichi from My Healthy Beginning
Michelle Elnycky from The Crooked House Blog

So for those of you who think this might be way too hard to do – you have all these experts here to back you up and help you meet the challenge. It’s not only these bloggers that will be doing the challenge but many of our readers will be following along. We will have a special Facebook group for discussions about the challenge and a place to reach out to everyone for help and support. There are two ways you can participate in the challenge:

Option # 1 (Free)

Join us and make the commitment to eat only real food for 7 days starting on April 21 – April 27, 2013. You will receive:

  • An e-guidebook on “What is Real Food?”
  • A chance to win one of our fabulous real food prizes

To enter this challenge for free click here

Option # 2 ($29)

If you want to get really serious about this challenge and take full advantage of the support you can get from this group – this is for you. Making a big lifestyle change can be difficult on your own but with a huge group of people doing it along with you it is a lot easier – and a lot more fun! As a member of this challenge you will receive:

  • An e-guidebook on “What is Real Food?”
  • A full real food Paleo meal plan for 7 days – three meals a day and snacks
  • Recipes for all of the items in the meal plan (37 Delicious recipes!!)
  • A shopping list to help you prepare for the challenge
  • Tips on how to prepare your kitchen for this event
  • Membership to our private Facebook group which is a place to reach out for help and ask questions
  • A chance to win one of our fabulous real food prizes – worth over $600+

PLUS these fabulous Bonuses (worth over $237+) for everyone who buys this package…

The meal plan for this challenge is a Paleo menu! This means that all the recipes are grain-free, dairy-free, and sugar-free. If you have ever thought about trying the Paleo / Primal diet and thought it was too hard this is the perfect chance to try it out. All of these done for you planning items and the built in support are designed to make this challenge much less of a challenge to complete. What do you think – are you ready to take the 7 Day Real Food Challenge?

Click here to join us and get the plan, recipes, and support now!

The plan and recipes require basic kitchen tools. A good set of knives is the best thing you can splurge on in my opinion – even better you may win some in the giveaways that go along with this challenge!

Speaking of giveaways…Don’t forget about all of the fabulous prizes from our amazing sponsors!! We are giving away $600 worth of products! The Giveaways (over $600+ value)…


Ergo Chef Knife Company, makers of ergonomically-designed professional chef knives, is giving one participant of our challenge their Pro-Series 7” Santoku knife, Come Apart Kitchen Shears and a 9” & 12” Duo Tongs (Retail value $132) Follow them on FacebookTwitter, andYouTube

Taza Chocolate company, makers of traditional stone ground Mexican Chocolate, is giving one of our participants a package of their salted almond discs, their chipotle chili discs, a jar of chocolate covered hazelnuts and their 87% chocolate bar. Taza chocolate has a direct trade cacao program that cultivates face-to-face relationships with farmers. (Retail value $ 30.47) Follow them onFacebook and Twitter

Kaya Foods, superfoods for delicious living, is giving one participant 5 bags of their delicious Kale and Veggie Chips, great for healthy snacking and a few $1.00 coupons (Retail value $ 10) Follow them on Facebook

Yogi Tea, products inspired by Ayurveda  is giving one participant of our challenge 4 boxes of a variety of our top selling teas and a Yogi tea mug. (Retail value $40)Yogi tea is committed to providing healthy, natural teas that are accessible to as many people as possible. Follow them on Facebook.

Applegate, Organic & Natural Meats, is giving away a gift pack of products. (Retail value $ 25) Applegate meats are free of anti-biotics, growth hormones, nitrates, artificial ingredients and fillers which makes them far surpass the quality of conventional sliced sandwich meats. When buying Applegate products you can be confident you are eating a high quality product. Follow them onFacebookPinterest and Twitter

Trilight Health, makers of fast-acting, great tasting liquid herbal supplements, is giving one participant a $50 gift certificate to order products on their website! For over 20 years now, TriLight Health have supplied their customers nationwide with their high quality line of liquid herbal products. They specialize in great tasting, alcohol and sugar free, liquid herbal formulas for pregnancy, children, and the family. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter

Eco Lunch Gear, eco friendly reusable lunch gear, is giving one participant a a reusable sandwich wrap (Retail value $10.50). Eco Lunch Gear was started by a Mom who saw a need for an alternative to plastic and aluminum foil, her products can be washed and reused over and over to save money and our environment. Follow them on Facebookand Twitter.

Erin Odom from The Humbled Homemaker and creator of Real Food, Real Easy the eBook is giving one participant a copy of her eBook to help you continue with your Real Food journey (Retail value $$9.95) Follow her on FacebookTwitter, andPinterest

Health Coach, Mike Lamitola, is giving one participant free entry to his Tele-seminar on Cravings. Do you have a sugar habit you’ve been trying to beat? In this tele-seminar, Mike will explain how. (Retail value $25.00) Follow Mike onFacebook and Twitter

Alix from Blessed In Homemaking offers organic and all natural body care products, gentle baby care products, herbal products, crocheted items, and more, for your healthy lifestyle in herEtsy Shop. She is giving two participants a one ounce bag of loose chamomile  tea (Retail value $8.00) Follow her on Facebook

Stacy Karen from A Delightful Home is giving one participant of this challenge a copy of her eBook,Simple Scrubs to Make and Give. Start making your own scrubs at home for yourself and others (Retail value $3.99) Follow her on Facebook,Twitter, and Pinterest

Nina Nelson of Shalom Mama, is giving one participant of the challenge a healing balm and lavender mint lip balm from her etsy shop (Retail value $19.50) Follow her on FacebookTwitter, andPinterest

Melissa Joulwan from The Clothes Make the Girl, is giving one participant a copy of her Paleo eBook called Well Fed: Paleo Recipes for People Who Like to Eat (Retail value $14.95). This is a great resource for anyone interested in Paleo diet, whether you are just getting started or you are just looking for some new recipes to try. Follow her onFacebook and Twitter

Health Coach, Laura Prevost is giving 10 lucky participants one of her Dynamite Coachingsessions. If you are looking for some support around breaking a bad habit, or getting yourself motivated, Laura will work through it with you in this session (Retail value $20.00/session) Follow Laura on Facebook or Twitter

Jami from Young Wife’s Guide, is giving one participant a copy of her eBook, Apartment Gardening, which is a great resource for getting started growing food in small spaces (Retail value $2.99) Follow Jami on FacebookTwitter, andPinterest

Jennifer from Hybrid Rasta Mama has also offered to give away two copies of her eBook, Cooking with Coconut Oil (Retail value $19.95). The 68 recipes in this eBook are all simple to make and the ingredients in the recipes are all readily available. This eBook is a great way to start getting more coconut oil in your diet to get all the amazing health benefits. Follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest

You will have the chance to win all of these prizes by joining is the challenge with either Option # 1 or Option # 2 detailed above!


Do you have questions about this event? Please feel free to comment on this post with any questions or concerns.

Baby Steps to Health

I’ve heard it takes 21 days to make a new habit.  Well 21 days full of denying yourself what you want and eating things that are new doesn’t sound like a habit that you will be able to make and keep!

Most fad diets (and even good ones) have you make drastic changes.  And not just one or two changes, but often a complete 180, all at once.  The changes supposedly make your body start “eating bodyfat” by denying it a major food group (for example the Atkins diet denying all carbohydrates).  Or they do not allow you to eat any of your favorite foods, which make the diet so difficult to maintain!  Since the goal is a lifestyle change to be healthy and not just quick weight loss, a new approach should be taken.

Make Real Food “Baby Steps”

To create healthy eating habits and make them sustainable, you have to like what you are eating.  Some changes you may not even notice (like simple food swaps), and other changes will make you feel better and thus be easier to maintain.  My favorites are the ones that taste better than what I was eating before!

Here are some suggestions you can do in your home.  Pick one or two a week, and keep building!

  • Switch from margarine to butter (man-made trans-fat to an animal fat).
  • Switch from powdered or dairy aisle creamers full of yucky ingredients to homemade creamers (my favorite is peppermint mocha).
  • Switch from a snack of chips to a piece of fruit.
  • Switch from meals focused on carbohydrates (pasta or potatoes) to high in vegetables.
  • Switch from soda to water (or if you really like flavor, try home made flavored water).
  • Try baking your bread instead of buying it (here’s a yummy recipe that’s fairly easy).
  • Invest in a bread-machine!  I prefer using the dough cycle and cooking everything in the oven (it tastes better that way).  My favorite bread recipes for the bread machine.
  • Make homemade rolls instead of using refrigerated dough.
  • Switch from processed sugars to natural sugars like honey, maple syrup, and succanot (many recipes can be easily swapped 1 to 1 or 2 to 1).
  • Start cooking from scratch instead of from a box. Build up to once a week, then twice, etc.
  • Slowly cut out meals eaten in restaurants.
  • Switch from vegetable and canola oil to coconut oil (great for cooking eggs, popcorn, etc).  Olive oil is okay, but not for cooking at high temps.
  • Slowly step up from fat-free milk, to low-fat milk, to full-fat milk, to even raw milk!  (We’re at the full-fat stage, still looking for a safe raw-milk provider). Why to drink full-fat milk.
  • Switch from low-fat to full-fat dairy (see the previous link on milk).
  • Switch from low-fat, fat-free, sugar-free, and artificially sweetened products to the real thing, and here’s why!
  • Instead of store-bought desserts, make them at home and control what goes in them.  My favorite cupcake recipe, and cookie recipe.
  • Instead of store-bought trail and snack mixes, make them yourself.
  • Buy produce in season instead of buying the same thing every time (you get more nutritional benefit since it is fresh, you can save money since it is often on sale, and you increase variety).
  • Find local sources for produce, honey, eggs, dairy and meat.  Your produce will be fresher (because they will be picked ripe instead of ripening in a truck), often have more nutritional benefit, and you will be helping your local community (as well as helping your body and your pocket-book).  Often, local farmers follow organic practices but either can’t afford being certified organic even though the may follow stricter practices than many things labelled organic.  Get to know them and learn about their sustainable practices.  Eating local honey and produce can help with allergies as well.

This list can go on and on!  Do you have any real-food healthy switches you can recommend?  I’m sure I missed so many!  Again, don’t do all of these at once.  Pick one or two a week, and keep building to a healthier lifestyle.

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Natural Isn’t Always Easy: My Nursing Story

Nursing is one of the most natural, beautiful, and difficult things I have ever done.

I am a mother of three, and each of their breastfeeding experiences has been completely different. My firstborn was breastfed until he was 10 months old. I tried and failed at pumping for and nursing my second. And I have a beautiful, continuing nursing relationship with my 11 month old.

I was very lucky with my first. I grew up in a large family with a mother who extendedly nursed all of us (though I was the only one she nursed until the next one was born). Breastfeeding was normal to me, I didn’t even consider formula.

Learning To Breastfeed

The nursing relationship with my son started very badly, which is the main reason why we were so lucky. I was not prepared for his birth, so I was easily talked into an induction when he went past 41 weeks. Even though things were progressing, I was uninformed and ended up with a c-section. And my son was separated from me for over 10 hours after his birth, under the reasoning of a low body temperature.

I also found out later that a well-meaning nurse gave him a bottle of formula despite him being “labeled” with my intention to breastfeed only.

Despite what should have been a failure, we were able to forge a nursing relationship. The hospital had a lactation consultant on staff, and I found out when my mom arrived later it was the same consultant that helped her with nursing me! I learned so much about how tiny a newborn’s stomach was, and why it was so important to offer the breast every 2-3 hours. She helped me get through all the initial difficulties of poor latch and inverted nipples, and gave me tips on how to avoid painful and cracking nipples. I am so thankful for her!

When I went back to work, my employer had a whole empty floor where I was able to go as needed to pump milk for my son. When I switched jobs a few months later, they had a room specifically for moms to express milk. I was very blessed.

The only hurdle for us was that very soon my son had a definite preference for the bottle over the breast. Right around 6 months we stopped our nursing relationship, and around 9 months I stopped pumping completely. We ran out of my milk stash when he was around 10 months old. My biggest regret with him is not pumping a few months longer.

Struggling With My Second

With my daughter, it went downhill fast. It all started with another c-section, though this time I was only separated from her for 4 hours (is say this in the most sarcastic voice you can imagine). I took for granted how well it went with my son, so I did not seek out any support this time around.

I “knew what I was doing” this time, but things were stacked against us. I switched jobs within weeks of going back to work. Instead of being in an office environment that supported the importance of breastfeeding, I was working at a fast food restaurant. I was working three 12-hour shifts a week so that I could be home more. But I only had one 20 minute break in which to eat and also pump in a bathroom stall. I could take more breaks, but I would have to clock out for them. The whole purpose though of this switch was to make the same amount of money while being away less, so I didn’t take extra breaks.

I didn’t realize until it was too late how confusing this was for my body. I would be leaking on the drive home, and then be trying to pump one side while nursing my daughter on the other. Four days a week we were feeding every 4-6 hours and the other three there would be huge stretches with nothing than pumping once for a little relief.

Within weeks I was supplementing with formula while I was away since I couldn’t pump enough to keep up a good supply. And soon after that I wasn’t able to keep up on my days off.

I wish now I would have just called a lactation consultant. Or heard of all the supplements and teas that were available. Or found a way to quit working.

But I decided to stop nursing. I’m still upset about this decision.


Preparing For Success

When I was planning for my third, I was determined. I had so many regrets with my first two: the induction, the c-sections, the early quitting, the formula. I switched obstetricians, which was the biggest step in my goal of no more c-sections. I researched everything. I read everything I could get my hands on about natural birth, nursing, and nutrition.

When I finally got pregnant, I prepared for everything. I hired a doula, which was a huge help in providing information, preparation for delivery, achieving a natural delivery, and initial nursing success. And I didn’t take my natural VBA2C for granted to give me a good start. And it’s a very good thing I didn’t!

My third was the first one to have a difficult time latching on. Everything I’d read had examples of immediate rooting and latching by the baby right after delivery. Not my son. My doula and I tried to get him to latch on, but he only wanted to lay there. We tried again every 30 minutes or so, but soon discovered the main difficulty was that he had a tiny mouth.

Thankfully at this point I wasn’t worried about showing it all with the nurses. And thankfully all of them were current or former nursing moms and experienced in nursing support. Every initial latch was difficult to achieve, but I soon figured out how to do it on my own.

The first few weeks at home were painful. Every time he latched on it would hurt. I experienced for the first time dry and cracked nipples and sharp pain until letdown. I was at my wits end, researching tongue-tie and other latch issues. Finally the pain ended around 3 weeks when he finally learned how to open his mouth wide and latch on his own.

I’m so thankful that throughout this I didn’t give up and that I never had supply issues. In addition to having a difficult start, this is also the first guy to bite me while nursing. We had several weeks of him biting me, and then thinking it was funny until I had to take him off and sit him down away from me. Thankfully the only time he bites me now is when he has fallen asleep. It is all I can do to not yell and wake him on these occasions.

There Are A Few Things I Attribute To Our Making It For Eleven Months And Counting:

  1. I was prepared. I researched everything I could and readied myself emotionally and physically.
  2. I had a goal. With my first two, it was just a normal thing and I wanted to make it to a year. With my third, I wasn’t taking anything for granted. Nursing for a year was a minimum, not the ending point.
  3. I am a stay at home mom now. Many women work for wonderful companies that support the breastfeeding relationship (I have worked for two of them myself), and there are rules in place now to support women. But there are many companies that follow by the bare minimum. Some companies are exempt (like fast food places). Plus, not having the bottle to compete with makes nursing so much easier! While I occasionally envy the moms who can get away for a while since their babies will take a bottle, I wouldn’t trade my nursing relationship for anything.
  4. I didn’t listen to the “world”. I ignored the formula companies. I surrounded myself with people who viewed nursing as normal. I sought out support when I encountered a hurdle.

So now I have a new goal. Since I know I’ll reach my minimum of twelve months I decided I would love to try out tandem nursing if God gives me another baby in the near future. If that doesn’t happen, 18 months is my new minimum.

Update: I am now pregnant with #4 and still nursing my 14 month old!  God surprised us with this little one, after fertility treatments with the first 2 and months of trying with #3, it was quite a shock to become pregnant before his first birthday while still nursing regularly!  We are down to nursing 2-3 times a day, but we still have a good, strong nursing relationship I wouldn’t trade for anything, even though I’m exhausted and starving all the time!  I hope he still enjoys this for a few more months, and I would still like to try out tandem nursing!

Read my story on Modern Alternative Pregnancy

I just had my first story published on Modern Alternative Pregnancy!

Read about my VBA2C on MAP.


Get Healthy to Lose Weight

I’ve been seeing this quote lately: “Don’t lose weight to get healthy.  Get healthy to lose weight”.  If you’ve read my post from a year ago, Trying My Hand at Weightloss Advice, that quote pretty much summarizes it.

There are many reasons why I’ve decided to write a follow-up:

  1. It’s that time of year, getting ready for swim-suits, ugh.
  2. It’s been a year since I wrote my post on weight-loss.
  3. Accountability to myself over successes and failures.
  4. I’ve read so much more and love to share!

I’ll admit it, it’s our culture and the desire to be thin that had driven me to lose weight most of my life.  I have never been happy with my body.   Convenience food had driven what my family and I ate.  Until 2 years agoI had no desire to have an active lifestyle, and I still struggle in this are. While I have only done a few of the fad diets, I’ve felt and experienced the yo-yo on my body.

I thought being healthy meant denial, insane exercise, bland foods.  I thought weight-loss came strictly from calorie input being less than physical output.  There are partial truths in these statements, but being healthy is a lifestyle.  It does not come from fad diets, from denying your body what it craves, or from pushing your body to it’s physical limit through exercise.

I realized that I could write one long post on everything I’ve learned.  But who wants to spend an hour reading a book online?  I know I don’t have time for that.  So I’m going to write a series on weight loss from a whole foods, healthy living perspective. I can’t promise that I’ll get it done as frequently as I’d like or have a regular posting schedule.  I’m a homeschooling mom with an energetic almost one-year-old.  But my goal is 1-2 posts a week on little steps you can take, tips I’ve learned, successes I’ve had, and encouragement for others.

I’m writing these for the frugal, health conscious person who realizes that fads don’t mean sustainable weight-loss, pills usually aren’t healthy, and health is more important than the number on the scale.  And most importantly, these tips are things I learned while feeding a household on the same principles while either trying to conceive, being pregnant, or nursing exclusively.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional.  Be sure to check with a health care provider to ensure that these are safe for you, especially if you have a pre-existing medical condition, are pregnant or are nursing. 

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