Pregnancy Hospital Prep

preparing for baby

With pregnancy, there are many emotions the woman goes through at any given time……. or all at the same time, depending on those lovely hormones.  One area that I have found to be especially challenging the second time around has been my pregnancy hospital prep.   With an active toddler and pretty active lifestyle, there’s not much time for sitting around and dreaming up all of the items I want to bring to the hospital with me.

preparing for baby

After looking around on Pinterest and thinking back to my first time around, I have finally compiled a list of everything that we will be bringing to the hospital for baby number two.  Not only do I have a list, but everything is packed and ready to go (except for last minute items – and I have a list for those)!  Being prepared gives me peace of mind and leaves no room for worrying!


Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.    Proverbs 3:5-6   




Hospital Prep: List for Mom

clothing:
  • Nursing pads & bras: These are a necessity if you plan to nurse!  Excess milk and ease of nursing.  Need I say more?
  • Delivery gown: Bringing a gown is optional, because the hospital will provide one for you, however, I like to wear my own clothes.  Just thinking about someone else laboring in that same gown, and not knowing how intense the washing process is…….ugh!  Besides, my sweet hubby bought me one this year, along with some comical labor socks.
  • Large gowns to wear after delivery (make sure they open in the front if you plan to nurse): After having a baby, you really don’t feel like putting real clothes on.  And you are constantly getting up, being checked, etc.  So, having a large gown makes life a lot simpler when you are in that newborn fairly conscious state during the stay at the hospital.
  • Going home outfit: sweats.  Again, who needs/wants real clothes?!  Who knows what condition your body will be in, or how much of that “baby fat” stayed with you after delivery.  Sweats are very forgiving and very comfortable!
  • Flip flops, grippy socks: If you’re wanting to move around at all in the hospital, I strongly recommend something to put on your feet.  With my first, I went on long walks and moved around as much as possible to get labor going and keep my blood moving.  Flip flops can also be worn in those hospital bathrooms and showers if you’re grossed out by being barefoot.

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food:
  • Snacks: Whatever kinds of foods that you want.  I like to bring protein-rich foods that are easy to snack on like nuts, granola, etc.
  • Prenatal vitamins: I got this idea from another mom’s blog.  This was definitely not on my radar the first time around, but it does make sense.  Your body goes through a lot when you have a baby, so the extra vitamins and minerals are good.  Also, if you plan to nurse, prenatal vitamins will still be a staple!
  • Water: This is not necessary, because the hospital will again provide you with water.  (After delivery of course, because birthing a baby doesn’t make you thirsty or anything!)  I do like the taste of the water that we get out of our Berkey.  Pure, filtered water for me, please!
Toiletry items:

Don’t leave home without your stuff that will make you feel like a human again!  I’m sure the hospital has most all of this, but after going through something as intense as childbirth, it’s nice to have some comforts of home!  Plus, if you are expecting visitors, you’ll want to freshen up.

  • Deodorant
  • Toothpaste & toothbrush
  • Body wash
  • Lotion
  • Loofah
  • Brush & hair ties
oily supplies:

We did not know the beauty and wonders of essential oils and toxin-free living the first time around and I am so excited to use them this time!  We use Young Living essential oils and they have changed our lives completely!  Read more about that in this post.

  • Labor oils list: Sadly, due to regulations, I am unable to post specific information about which oils help with pregnancy.  But, I can tell you that the book, Gentle Babies is an absolute necessity purchase if you would like to try using more natural remedies with your pregnancy.
  • Cooling face spray: With my first delivery, I don’t remember much (Funny how biology works like that, isn’t it?  If mothers remembered everything, they probably wouldn’t want any more!), but I do remember feeling hot the entire time!  I’m so excited to have this cooling spray if I need it this time.
  • Soothing spray for bottom
    • Combine 2 oz of witch hazel, 3 drops of Peppermint essential oil and 4 drops of Lavender essential oil in a 2 oz glass spray bottle.  Shake and spray.  Use to aid healing the perineum and to help the body return to its anti-hemorrhoidal state.  Please do not apply this recipe to essential oils purchased in stores!  See link above for a deeper explanation of why we only use Young Living.
  • Labor massage oil*  The first time around, I was blessed with little back pain that so many other women talk about.  I wanted to be prepared just in case I needed some support during labor.  I am also blessed with a wonderful hubby who will be more than happy to give me a back rub using this magical blend of goodness during labor.  If I don’t need it during labor, I plan to use it after to help bring balance back to my body.

*Recipe can be found in the Gentle Babies book.

preparing for baby

Hospital Prep: List for Baby

  • Swaddler: Most babies enjoy the tight fitting clothing known as a swaddler.  Our first hated being swaddled, but every baby is different.  Plus, we have some cute ones from last time!  Bringing this along just in case.
  • 2 Sleepers: The hospital will most likely put your newborn in a onesie to serve as clothing and pajamas.  It is always nice to put that cute little bundle in something cute, though.  We used sleeper sacks last time that zip up.  This made changing soooo much easier.  And with a newborn, you will be doing a lot of changing!
  • Going home outfit: Don’t you want something cute for baby to wear as you leave the hospital?!  We completely forgot to snap a picture as we were leaving the hospital last time, but I’d love to get a going home pic this time.  
  • Burp cloths: Again, I’m pretty sure that the hospital will provide some form of a burp cloth, but you can never have enough of these things!  Bringing them just in case.  And for the car ride home.
  • Blanket: Our little bundle is arriving in the fall, so cooler weather means extra bundling.  I don’t know if we will need the blanket in the hospital, but we will need it when we leave.
  • Car seat installed in car: This is an absolute must!  For those of you reading who don’t already know, hospital staff will come outside with you and check that you have a properly installed car seat before you’re allowed to leave the parking lot with your baby.  I already had hubby install this in my car one month before my due date just so it was done.  That is not something you want to have to mess with when you’re in labor!
  • 2 outfits: Because those hospital onesies are so boring!  Why wait to start dressing up that little darling?!
  • Socks & hats: I’m feeling a little redundant here, but it is so nice to have your own clothing in a hospital.  Hospital will provide, but bring yours if you want.
  • Sweet Dream spray: This wonderful spray helps promote a calm and relaxing environment.  Who doesn’t need that after birthing a baby?!
    • Combine 10 drops of Lavender essential oil and a pinch of Epsom salt in a 2 oz glass spray bottle.  Swirl to allow the salt to absorb the essential oil.  Add 2 oz of distilled water and shake.  Spray linens, clothing, the air, etc.
    • I still use this spray with my toddler during nap and bed time!
  • Diaper cream: I prefer to use all natural products and can’t wait to try out my new Young Living diaper cream!  Sadly, most baby products sold in stores are loaded with harmful chemicals and toxins.  I want to do the best that I can to support my baby’s immune system, not make it work harder than necessary!
  • Umbilical cord ointment*: I plan to use this daily on our baby’s umbilical cord until it heals completely.  
  • Anointing baby with oils list*: Shortly after birth, we plan to anoint our baby with essential oils.  We strongly believe in the power of these precious resources and want our baby to be as healthy and strong as possible.

*Recipe and information can be found in the Gentle Babies book.

Hospital Prep: List for Dad

  • Comfy clothes & shoes
  • Snacks
  • Money for vending machine
  • Ball cap
  • Vitamins

This list is a little embarrassing!  But, no offense to dads, they’re not really the focus.  Bare essentials for dad.  He will be the supporting role and errand runner during the hospital stay.  He will need to be comfortable and prepared to help with caring for baby and taking care of mommy.

Hospital Prep: MISC items to bring

  • preparing for babyPhones & chargers: This is a last minute pack for sure, but definitely needed!  This is how my hubby will communicate with all of our family and friends when the day is finally here!  
  • List of pictures wanted taken at hospital: Like I mentioned before, pictures were more of an afterthought the first time around.  This time, I’d like to have a list so we don’t forget anything.  There are tons of cute ideas online if you need a little inspiration!
  • Diffuser: This device spreads essential oils into the air for scent and therapeutic benefits.  I plan to use it during and after labor.
  • Birth plan: Although, I was told by a few midwives during my prenatal visits that this document was unnecessary, I am still going to make a birth plan.  I think it’s really important to put all my requests down on paper for everyone who is involved in the process.  I want as little intervention as possible and wish to have no vaccinations or medications given to my baby.  Searching online can give you a starting point and some ideas of what to include.
    • Essential oils:

      Mom, Dad, Baby, Mom & Baby, Diffuser

  • Aroma Life
  • Aroma Siez
  • Brain Power
  • Cedarwood
  • Claraderm spray
  • Clary Sage
  • Cool Azul
  • DiGize
  • EnRGee
  • Eucalyptus
  • Frankincense
  • Gentle Baby
  • Geranium
  • Jasmine
  • Joy
  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • M-Grain
  • Myrrh
  • Orange
  • PanAway
  • Peace & Calming
  • Peppermint
  • Roman Chamomile
  • Stress Away
  • Thieves
  • Trauma Life
  • Valor
  • White Angelica
  • Ylang Ylang

Most of these recommendations came from the Gentle Babies book.  Others I found online.  Again, I am not permitted to share why I am choosing these oils, just know that they are in the best interest for the specified party above.  I made a spreadsheet with information on when and how to use the essential oils.  If you’ve never used essential oils before, I encourage you to check out this post.

Hospital Prep: Don’t Bring These!

  • Diapers & wipes: The hospital will provide diapers & wipes.  And, if you ask, they will even send some home with you!
  • Fancy clothes for anyone: You’re main focus is taking care of baby and surviving those first few days with a newborn!  No one needs to be dressed to the nines in the hospital!
  • Things for baby to do like toys, books, etc.: Babies don’t really do much more than eat, sleep, and use the restroom in those first few days.  Unless you want these items for a photo shoot, leave them at home.  Your baby will be fascinated by simply looking around.
  • Too much stuff: You don’t need to bring your entire house with you.  Your stay should only be a few days.  Depending on the size of your room, all of the stuff that you bring may make it feel cramped.

Overall, you need to do what is best for your family and your specific situation.  This is just a list of what we will be bringing.  If you have not thought about this, please do so during your third trimester.  Being packed and ready is a great feeling!  Blessings to you & your family as you welcome a new life into the world!

My Tips and Tricks for Pregnancy

baby in belly

Being pregnant is such a blessing because of the joy and excitement that comes with new life.  That being said, there are many areas of pregnancy that present challenges.  These challenges can be alleviated by using certain products and adding some activities to your daily routine.  This is also a great time to get some reading done because after that baby, you are not going to have any time to read!  Any extra moment that you have will be devoted to sleeping, most likely.

I have learned a lot during this second pregnancy and wanted to share some tips and tricks with others.  Every pregnancy is unique and every woman is different, so these are just ideas and suggestions that worked for me.

pregnant belly


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Pregnancy Suggestions – External

 

1. Leggings

These are a life saver when your belly is constantly growing!  Even some maternity pants can be uncomfortable if the waistband is not made right.  There are so many different places to purchase leggings, but I got mine at Target.  Three different colors to go with lots of different possibilities.  Super comfortable during any stage in your pregnancy, but especially in the last trimester when you feel huge and don’t want any extra pressure over your tummy.

2. Creams and Lotions

With a growing baby comes a growing belly and skin that must stretch to accommodate the space.  This pregnancy, my skin has been extra itchy.  I have found relief in using all natural products to make lotions.  I also try to apply lotion to my belly every night to prevent any stretch marks.  The most common ingredients when doing a Pinterest search are Shea butter and coconut oil.  These two products are great for the skin and help moisturize.  Find the raw Shea butter that I use here and coconut oil here.

Pregnancy Suggestions – Movement

3. Exercise of some kind: Yoga!

This is not a time of your life where you should be running marathons and lifting heavy weights, but you shouldn’t be sitting on the couch all day eating ice cream out of the carton either.  Find a happy medium.  I have fallen in love with yoga and pregnancy poses to relieve aches and pains.  I have also found yoga poses helpful to move this baby around when she is making me uncomfortable.  Yoga mats are relatively inexpensive and you really don’t even need one.  My favorite poses are: the bridge, cat cow, and king pigeon.  If trying yoga, just make sure that you are doing safe poses for pregnant women because some can be dangerous.

4. More exercise: Walk/Jog

Again, you need to use common sense and not overdo it when exercising.  I try to take a walk every day, sometimes mixing walking with a light jog.  Walking is great exercise, especially when you are pregnant.  I use these running shoes and love them!  If you don’t have time to talk a walk, try to incorporate more walking into your normal day.  Park further away from the store entrance, kick around a soccer ball with your child (if you have one already) or go for a swim.  The point is to stay active.  This will help you maintain a healthy weight during your pregnancy and help your body not get stagnant.

Pregnancy Suggestions – Toxin-Free

5. Young Living essential oils

We discovered essential oils about four years ago shortly after my daughter was born. Essential oils are the lifeblood of the plant and contain beneficial constituents that the human body recognizes. These precious resources can support and balance all systems of the body including emotions. I enjoy adding Frankincense, Lavender and Tea Tree to lotions that I make using Shea butter and coconut oil. Frankincense helps restore and bring balance to the DNA (that’s the genetic instructions) of your cells. Lavender has many benefits, including being calming and soothing. Tea Tree also has many benefits, but is known for its ability to balance the skin. Young Living has incredible products with high standards. For more information, read this post.

Cleaning sprays DIY6. Toxin-free cleaning

Everyone loves a clean and fresh smelling home, but did you ever stop to think about where the scent is coming from? Many cleaning products claim to use real lemons, but who is truly regulating that? When you are pregnant, you may be extra sensitive to smells due to the hormones. I use only natural ingredients to clean. That way, I don’t have to worry about inhaling harmful fumes. My go-to ingredients for cleaning are vinegar, baking soda and Young Living’s Thieves cleaner. Between those three ingredients, I clean my entire home!  For more information and recipes, click here.

Pregnancy Suggestions – Internal

7. Drink pure water

Drinking water is beneficial for everyone, especially pregnant women.  The problem is that so many sources of water are not pure.  City water is treated with all kinds of harmful chemicals, well water could have harmful substances and bottled water is sold in plastic.  We chose to invest in a Berkey water filtration system.  So, we pour water from our well into the filtering device and it removes harmful substances like lead from the water.  If you’re drinking the twelve glasses a day that’s recommended, you want to make sure you’re drinking pure water without any harmful chemicals.  This hydrates your body without overworking your immune system.

8. Supplements

The sad truth is that we are simply not getting enough nutrients and minerals from the food that we are eating, so everyone should be taking some kind of supplement.  But, just like the water, you need to make sure that the supplements are from a pure source.  Expecting mothers need to be extra vigilant to make sure that they are getting folate, Calcium, and many other vitamins and minerals that your developing baby needs.  We choose to order most of our supplements from Young Living because it’s a company we can trust for purity.  I take 1 ounce of antioxidant juice called NingXia Red every morning with cod liver oil for my omegas.

Pregnancy Suggestions – Literature

Gentle Babies

Going along with the Young Living essential oils I mentioned above, this book is a valuable resource. It gives in detail specific oils and protocols that are super beneficial during pregnancy, delivery and after baby is born. There are certain essential oils that you should be extra cautious with when pregnant, just because they are so highly concentrated. Everything that you put on your skin or into your body can directly affect your unborn child because everything is absorbed one way or another. Your skin absorbs anything that you put on it and your digestive system must process what you consume. Even after birth, essential oils can be of assistance. There are certain oils that help increase or decrease your milk supply. Overall, this book is a small investment when you consider all the information that it gives you.

The Solution

I know this is a controversial topic, but let me be clear. There are too many “coincidences” and studies centering around bad science for this not to raise questions. There are all kinds of incentives and rewards for people in the medical profession to push and recommend vaccines. Guess who’s rewarding them? The same companies that make a profit from the vaccines! I just think of all of the people who lived 50+ years ago. They did not have the enormous amount of vaccines that are recommended today and they lived healthy lives.

There are other alternatives. It’s so sad to me that we have been brainwashed and just accept that a pill can help us. The human body is so complex and was created so intricately, there is no way a man-made substance is going to benefit long-term. This book explains lots of science behind the human body’s natural prevention called the immune system and then alternative ways to boost immunity.

Literature for Preparation

Loving the Little Years

I started reading this book after I saw it on someone else’s blog. This is written from the perspective of a mom who is not perfect. Sometimes when I’m reading books or articles, the tone and overall feel of the text is that the author has it all figured out. This is simply not realistic when it comes to raising littles. They are constantly changing and are God’s way of shaping our characters. This book has changed the way that I look at raising my daughter and I wish that I had read it sooner! The author connects raising children with your walk with Christ. An easy read and well worth the investment of money and time.

Parenting

We purchased this book after watching a sermon series on parenting. This book has definitely changed the way that I view discipline. It is Biblically based and very straightforward. The author has a unique way of delivering content without making the parent reading it feel judged or guilty. This is another book I wish I had read before having my first child. So many gems and perspective shifters! I would recommend this to any parent or parent-to-be!

 

Overall, there are many challenges and blessings of pregnancy.  I pray that you have found some ideas in this post that will be helpful to you.  Blessings for your precious bundle and growing family!

Apple Picking

Family Fun with a Purposebag of apples

I love being outside and eating fresh fruit.

apples on the tree

This fun family activity combined those two!  We went apple picking at Fifer Orchards.  It is really important to me to educate J on food and using fresh ingredients.  We’ve made several lifestyle changes to try and get our health in order.  If you would like to read more about that, check out this post.  The book that inspired us the most is called The Daniel Plan.  If you would like to learn more about your health, nutrition and otherwise, I strongly encourage you to check it out!


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picking apples

 

 

The trees were full of beautiful apples!  We were so glad that we decided to get the larger bag.

 

 

 

J got to pick the apples straight off of the tree.  Now, that’s staying connected to your food!  There was even a little tractor ride involved.  A tractor pulling a trailer escorted us to the rows of apple trees and then picked us up when we finished picking.

Apple Uses

bag of apples

 

 

But, what exactly do you do with a 1/2 bushel of apples?  Eat them raw, apple pie, apple crumb cake, apple crisp, applesauce, etc.  There are so many possibilities!

 

The first step is washing all those apples!  Washing produce is so important.  Even when purchasing organic, you never know if the neighboring farmer uses pesticides or if crop dusters flying over spill some of the harmful chemicals onto the produce.  Fifer Orchards is not organic, but the worker told us that they try to limit the chemicals that they use.

washing apples

 

We love to fill the sink with water and add about a cup of white vinegar.

It is amazing to see the film come off of the produce in the sink!  You can rinse or just let air dry.  I have done both and cannot tell a difference either way.

 

Juicing

We love using our juicer to make fresh pressed juice.  If you’d like to check out the one that we use and love, click here.  It is an investment, but when you juice often, it is so worth it!  This juicer is a cold-press which does not heat up, damaging beneficial enzymes.

Slice and core the apples, then dump into the juicer.  Fresh pressed juice and dry apple pulp to feed the deer in the woods.

 

fresh juice

We lost track of how many apples we juiced, but guessed around 40 or so.  Here’s the first 1/2 gallon jug.  The color is different from store bought apple juice, but I have found that is usually the case.  Store bought juices often have many other ingredients added to make them sweeter and “prettier.”  This juice tastes great and we know exactly what’s in it!  Read even more about juicing in this post.

 

 

Here’s the next batch of juice jugs:

more juice

We had some pineapple juice left over from our last juicing, and I found this recipe for Hot Apple Cider that I wanted to try.  The jug in the middle has pineapple juice and apple juice.

Hot Apple Cider Recipe:

6 cups Apple cider or juice (we used juice)

2 cups pineapple juice

Clove Vitality* 5 drops

Cinnamon Bark Vitality* 5 drops

Tangerine Vitality* 5 drops

Directions: Put all ingredients into a 3 qt pot and heat on medium heat until hot, stirring occasionally.  Serve warm!

We used our large Hydroflask jug to keep it warm.  It was delicious!

*New to essential oils?  Learn more about them in this post.  The Vitality line is specifically for internal use.  We love our Young Living products!

Juicing

juicing watermelon

Why We Choose to Juice Fruits

My daughter has an allergy where she cannot consume raw apples or pears.  This made it incredibly difficult to find store bought juice.  Almost all juices have apple or pear juice as a filler because those fruits are pretty cheap.  Also, we have been trying to get healthier and know exactly what we are putting in our bodies.  So, juicing was an easy decision.  You have the upfront cost of purchasing another appliance, but we believe it has been well worth the cost.

freshly peeled oranges

The hardest part is going to be finding a juicer.  There are SOOO many different kinds and brands.  After researching, we decided to go with one that is a cold press because heat can take away vital enzymes and nutrients.  Other juicers have a blade that spins around to separate the juice, and the blade is what produces heat energy.  The cold-press technology basically squeezes the juice out of the fruit by pressing and grinding.  The brand that we have is SKG.  There are only a few parts to take apart and cleaning it is very easy.  Usually, we just throw it all in the dishwasher.  To view the juicer that we use and love, click here.


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fresh squeezed orange juiceBenefits of Juicing

I have done a lot of research into the food industry and have discovered information that is disturbing.  It started with reading The Daniel Plan and then watching a documentary on Netflix called Food, Inc.  The short version is that the consumer needs to be educated and wise to decide what is best for their family.  Tricky wording and optional labeling can leave even the well-educated consumer  guessing.  So, by juicing, you remove all of the guessing.  Purchase organic produce, straight from the farmer if you can, and there you have it.  You know exactly what is in your juice.

Other than piece of mind, juicing does have health benefits.  If you prefer to drink your vitamins and nutrients, or have a very active lifestyle and need something on-the-go, juicing is great.  I plan to use juicing as I do making smoothies – sneaking veggies in that my daughter doesn’t like to eat.  That way, she’s still getting the nutrients, but can’t even taste it!  There is no real scientific evidence right now to support juicing is better than eating the whole fruit or vegetable.  I believe that they can both be beneficial.  In our case, juicing was necessary to meet the needs of my daughter’s food allergy.  We have also noticed that the juice tastes better.  It’s like your body can taste the difference between pasteurized and fresh-pressed.  Amazing!

SKG juicer

For more information, check out these articles: The Healing Properties of Juicing and Juicing, How Healthy Is It?

The Juicer

juicing fruits

As you can see, there are two spouts at the bottom of the reservoir.  You cut your fruit up and place into the top.  The bottom part turns and separates the pulp from the juice.  This juicer comes with a cup to catch the juice, but you will need to grab a bowl or something to catch the dry pulp.  We use our Pampered Chef glass mixing bowl.  This batch got almost a gallon of juice from one little watermelon!

juicing fruits

 

It’s super easy to use!  We love juicing and have only tried a few fruits so far.  These pictures are from watermelon.  We have juiced pineapple, raspberries, oranges and lemons.  The pineapple is a household favorite and I use lemon juice in my water to raise my body’s pH level.

 

Benefits of Juicing Cold-Pressed

Although it may seem slower than other appliances, this juicer gets the job done and it is very quiet.  You get a lot of juice from fruit and have super dry pulp.  The dry pulp is full of fiber, so you will want to save it for something.  It is excellent for adding to smoothies.  If you’re into hunting, deer enjoy watermelon I hear, so that’s another option!  We have only tried using this juicer with fruits, but I have read that it works great with vegetables and even nuts if you want to make your own almond milk, etc.

I like to save the dried pulp to add to smoothies.  The pulp has lots of fiber and helps thicken smoothies nicely.

Just press into an ice cube tray, freeze, pop out and toss in a freezer bag.  Label with contents and date.  The next time you want to add a little something to your smoothie, toss a couple cubes in!

For more ideas on how to make food at home, check out my post here about pizza made from scratch, or here for homemade applesauce.

Toxin-Free Cleaning

Cleaning sprays DIY

After years and years of using store bought toxic cleaners, I decided to try making my own using pure ingredients and my Young Living essential oils.  If you’ve never heard of essential oils, check out my posts here and here.  I use these toxin-free cleaners with microfiber cloths to clean my entire house from top to bottom.  Using microfiber instead of paper towels reduces the waste. Now, my little one can help me clean and I don’t have to worry about harmful toxins getting to my family.  It makes me cringe thinking about all of the toxins that I used before while cleaning.  Under the kitchen sink was filled with different cleaners.  I no longer have to worry about my daughter ingesting large amounts of super harmful toxins.


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To view the kind of glass bottles that I use, click here.  I like to use the amber glass instead of clear to protect the oils inside.  Sunlight can lessen the affects of the oils over time.

Toxic Ingredients

But first, let’s talk about toxic ingredients and why you want to avoid them.  The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has a list of what they call the “dirty dozen.”  This lists the top harmful toxins currently used in the personal care and cleaning industries.  I encourage you to visit their site and read the information for yourself here.  [You can also find lists on foods on their site as well.]  This site is loaded with information and is one of the first places to check.  The first time I began researching, I was appalled that consumers are not protected against these terrible ingredients by any governing agencies!  And so many people purchase cleaning products from the store that can harm their families.  The largest area of concern for me is endocrine disruptors.  There are a lot of toxins used in common products that have been linked to hormone issues.

Watch a video about staying away from harmful toxins here.

Hormones and Why Being Toxin-Free Helps

Your hormones are incredibly important to your body and its regulation.  Simply put, they are the messengers of the body.  Your hormones control feelings, emotions, blood pressure, help break down food, regulate pain, and much more.  For even more information on hormones, visit this site.  So, basically, when you use toxic cleaners, your hormones are not able to function at their best capacity.  Toxins must be filtered out and broken down by your body.  If you are unable to break them down and dispose of them, the body just reabsorbs the toxins.  Many people suffer with problems of the thyroid, adrenal fatigue and more.  I wonder how many of these issues could decrease or resolve themselves if more people started removing toxins from their homes.  The body is an amazing creation, so why not do everything we can to give it the best environment possible?!

My Toxin-Free Cleaners

When starting off toxin-free, you’re going to want to dispose of all the plastic in your home because plastic has……you guessed it: toxins!  So, for all of my cleaning products, I order glass spray bottles online.  We prefer the darker amber glass because essential oils need to be protected from sunlight.

So, here’s more information on the different cleaners that I use and how I use them in my home.

Cleaning Spray

Cleaning spray DIY

This is the all-purpose cleaning spray that I use the most in my home.  You purchase the Thieves Household Cleaner from Young Living and then just add water.  The cleaner is highly concentrated and smells wonderful!  We spray our counters off, mop the floors, and use on any other surface that needs to be cleaned.  It is by far the best cleaner and easiest to make!  Only two ingredients!  This is in the largest spray bottle because it is used the most often.  You can make different strengths of cleaner by adding more concentrate if needed.

Glass & Stainless Steel CleanerGlass and Stainless cleaner DIY

This cleaner is my next favorite because I hate cleaning glass!  I never liked the method (even though it works so well) of wiping the cleaning solution off with newspaper.  That just didn’t sit right with me.  Probably because newspapers are so dirty.  This recipe uses white vinegar, rubbing alcohol, water and citrus essential oils like lemon, lime or grapefruit.  (These links go directly to the Young Living website.  Unless you are a member, you pay retail price.  I would encourage you to look into becoming a member because of all of the wonderful perks, including cheaper prices!)  This solution also works well to clean all of our stainless steel appliances.  Just make sure you don’t spray too much.  Just like essential oils, a little goes a long way!

Purbreeze

Refreshing spray DIYI use this spray to freshen the scent of my home by spraying the linens, carpets, and furniture.  It uses a blend called Purification which smells fresh and clean.   I’ve also made a carpet deodorizer with baking soda and this blend.  You sprinkle the carpet and then vacuum it up.  I prefer the spray method because it takes a lot less time!  Another benefit to this spray is that the essential oil blend contains Citronella and Lemongrass oils, both known for their repelling properties.

Dusting Spray

Dusting spray DIY

I really, really, really hate to dust!  But, this spray has made the experience a little more tolerable.  With the fresh lemon scent, it really lifts my mood. I spray a small amount on the microfiber cloth – not on the surface of what I am dusting – and wipe off.  It helps remove whatever is on the surface and leaves a fresh smell.

The difference between this fresh smell is that it actually came from a lemon’s peel.  There are no toxic chemicals used to make a lemon smell like, well, … a lemon!

If you are interested in learning more about toxin-free living, and making the choice to invest in your family’s health, please consider becoming a member of Young Living.  They are a wonderful and trustworthy company with very high standards for all products.  Click here to sign up today and start enjoying the benefits of toxin-free living!  Thank you so much for blessing my family!  We look forward to sharing more information with you about living a healthier lifestyle and sending you a free gift as our way of saying thank you.

Grounding Your Body

grounding
A view from my barefoot walk.

What is Grounding?

Grounding your body is extremely important for your health.  Grounding, also called earthing, is when your body is in direct contact with the earth.  When you take off your shoes and walk outside barefoot, that is grounding your body.  Our shoes have rubber or plastic soles which do not conduct electricity, which is why barefoot is best.

How does Grounding Work?

Our bodies have electrical currents.  The world that we live in is full of positive and negative ions.  Negative ions are better for the body, where positive ions can cause harm.  An example of negative ions is running water, like a waterfall or river.  An example of positive ions is the television.  It is believed that the earth has an endless supply of negative ions due to the atmosphere.  Since the earth has a greater negative charge than your body, when the two come in contact, your body will absorb the negative charges from the earth.  If you need more information or help understanding that process, research diffusion and osmosis to learn about how water moves.  That is a simplified version of what is happening without getting into the chemistry.

grounding
Take off your shoes when you can!

Why is Grounding Your Body Necessary?

With all of our modern advances such as footwear, beds, etc., we are no longer in contact with the earth as our ancestors were.  They used shoes made of animal skins (which can allow charges to pass when wet) and slept mostly on the ground.  I am not advocating that we go back to those lifestyles, because I enjoy the comfort that shoes and elevated beds bring.  However, since we have removed ourselves from the earth, it only makes sense to get connected whenever possible.  The benefits are unbelievable!  Research has shown that grounding can help inflammation, sleep, the heart and even respiratory issues.

If you are unable to simply kick your shoes off and walk barefoot, there are other ways.  For example, if you live in a city or it is winter time, walking barefoot may not be the easiest.  There are several products on the market including sheets and a grounding mat.  They are an investment, but if you are spending time and money on other measures that are not working, why not give it a try?  Nature always seems to have a simple way to solve our problems.  Grounding is just another piece of the grand design of our Creator.  Who knew walking around barefoot would be so beneficial?!

grounding
Being outside in nature is always so restorative.

For more information on grounding, check out this link.

For more information on other tips to improve your health, click here.

Simplify Your Life – Go Smaller

Smaller living

Why We Went Smaller

I have written several posts before about how to simplify your life and why your family will thank you.  Due to our simplification process, we decided to sell our home and move into a smaller place. We left a 3 bedroom home to go to a 1 bedroom home and couldn’t be happier! We have finally settled into our new, smaller home with everything in its place.  Consequently, many people we have spoken to do not understand why anyone would do this. It seems as if we are going backwards.

You know the American dream is to buy a big house and have a great job with children. Oh, I forgot the white fence. And the dog. It seems like everyone always wants to get more stuff and bigger homes. Yet, people seem unhappy and grumpy.  The problem with us was, we didn’t feel like we had time to invest in each other and our daughter because we were so busy taking care of all of our stuff. And working on the house, because that truly never ends. Just ask anyone who owns a home! Something always needs to be fixed, painted, updated, cleaned, etc. And then, there’s the outside. It is never ending.  Rather than fixing up physical things, we’d rather invest in relationships.

How We Feel Now

After moving out and getting unpacked, we are completely at peace with our decision.  The smaller home can be cleaned in no time at all.  We have more time to spend with each other and less stuff cluttering our space.  As I have written before, it was very difficult to start the process.  Many of us have an emotional connection to our stuff.  Hence, getting rid of stuff is very personal.

But, now that we have come full circle, I can tell you that it is worth it!  I can tell a difference in my stress level.  We are happier and feel free.  There is freedom in simplifying!  Since moving, we now have more time and money to continue to pay down debt.  God does not want us to be in debt.  It’s not healthy to owe money to others for things that we cannot afford.  Many people go their entire lives in debt, whether it’s a mortgage or car payment, or both.  As a result, they may never experience the freedom that comes with having less stuff.  Most of all, humans were created to thrive on relationships, not FaceBook status or how big your house is, or how much stuff you buy.  Relationships matter.  All of our stuff really does not.

Benefits of Going Smaller

  • More time to spend with family
  • Don’t take things for granted
  • Shifts priorities – you learn what is important
  • Less stress
  • Everything serves a purpose (or two)
  • Peaceful (Especially if you live on a farm like we do!)
  • You learn creative ways to do certain things
  • Less waste – you’re not heating/cooling space you don’t use

How many of you actually use your dining room, anyway?!

I would encourage anyone reading this to look at what you are currently holding on to.  Does it serve a purpose?  Could you part with it?  Everything that we own is stored in our subconscience.  All those unnecessary trinkets are really clogging up your mental space.   Read more here and here.  Start in a closet.  Or the garage.  Is there enough space to park your car?  If the answer is no, then that should be the goal.  It’s so sad to see all of these homes with garages and cars parked outside.  Don’t pay for storage, go through your belongings and purge!  I promise, you won’t regret it.  The long-term benefits far outweigh the short-term feelings.  Don’t be afraid to go against the grain or “norm” just because others aren’t.

 

Want to read more?  Click here to purchase my ebook about Living Simply.


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Click here to find one book that helped us simplify our lives in more ways than one.

Living Simply – Are You Ready For It?

Less is More

I viewed a documentary called Minimalism, focusing on living simply in a world of I Gotta Have It Right Now.  Very inspiring and eye-opening with interviews of many people, including people with PhDs discussing the poor social state that many of us are in.  Less is more.  Why have we let the marketing industry brain wash us into thinking we must have __________ to be happy?  Thinking about people trampling  others at Black Friday sales makes me sick.  At the end of the documentary, one of the authors of the minimalist blog said, “Love people, use things, not the other way around.”  That is a mouthful!  As believers we are called to love others, but I’ve never thought of it like this before.  So, instead of “listening” to someone talking while you are using a smart phone, put down the phone and invest in that relationship!

The Love of Material Things

We are living in a current society where many people do not want for anything; they buy whatever they want whenever they want it.  Living simply isn’t even a thought.  You don’t have enough money?  That’s fine; there’s a credit card, or store card that you can charge.  This is SOOOOO unhealthy!  Instant gratification has spoiled so many of us.  I remember growing up and saving up my birthday AND Christmas money to buy things that I wanted.  Those wish lists that I created so my friends and family knew what I wanted……. that has all gone by the wayside.

Living simply doesn’t even make sense to so many people.  Who needs anything?  It makes me sick to think of the hundreds of dollars that I have spent on clothing!  Fashion that changes every month is too much to keep up with and not even worth the time or energy.  Many people are trapped in this state of keeping up with their neighbors, or showing up their family, or outranking their friends.  We can’t even enjoy our lives because we are working so much to pay for things that we don’t need and to live in houses that are too large.  For more information about clutter, click here.

simplify your life

Living Simply is a Process

We have slowly made small changes over the course of 2 years.  First, we slowed down our spending.  Just because Apple launches a new product, doesn’t mean that the old one stops working.  Why is it that we feel like we have to have everything the second we want it?  Three and four generations ago, people worked hard for everything that they had and I bet they were more grateful and lived happier lives.

The next step my family took was looking at some of our larger furniture and knick knacks.  Do we need all of these tables in our living room?  No.  Do these little figurines serve any purpose?  No.  Do we ever use that?  No.   Is it necessary to have 3 of one thing?  No. Having lawn sales was extremely helpful in getting rid of things we didn’t value and making some extra cash.  We are living simply and are actually happier with less stuff.

Learn more about de-cluttering here.

We are currently in the process of moving into a one bedroom apartment from our 3 bedroom home.  This is not something that will happen overnight, and it will not be easy to begin.  However, once you begin this process, it is SOOOO FREEING!  You feel free when you simplify and downsize.  It helps you focus on what really matters in your life.  I want to spend less time cleaning my house and more time with my family.

And don’t forget about your digital life.  Click here.

Ripple Effects

Not only are these habits and thoughts unhealthy for us and our families, they also affect our society.  I am a teacher, so I see the next generation on a daily basis.  Talk about struggle.  Talk about frustration.  I can see it in the kids and the adults.  It almost seems like we are speaking different languages.  So much time is spent on social media that face-to-face conversations, social etiquette and common courtesy are becoming nonexistent.

Communication is breaking down because people don’t have the life skills to function around other human beings!  It is so aggravating when you are talking to someone and they won’t put down their phone/tablet/whatever the newest gadget is!  Human beings are relational.  We are wired to function as collaborative groups, relying on each other and helping each other.  This love for material things has made us so selfish and introverted that we’ve lost something along the way that I think is detrimental to the species!  It is so encouraging to view other people snapping out of it and realizing that the best things in life aren’t things.

living simply

Make a Change Today!  Less IS More!

Be intentional.  Live Simply.  Enjoy life.  Love who you are, regardless of what you have or what you are wearing.  Evaluate how you are spending your time and money.  Are those things that you have in your closet really worth anything to you?  Could you get rid of some of your clutter to eliminate having to pay someone else to store your stuff?  Start small.  Tackle one room (or closet) at a time.  I like to give myself challenges.  Eliminate the need for one shelf in your closet, or fit everything into one box.  We just went through our Christmas decorations and have everything other than the tree fitting into one tote.

Don’t go to work just to make enough money to pay the bills, or to pay for the things that you don’t need.  Life is so much more than stuff!  Slow down and pause to smell the flowers in your garden.  Listen to the animals chattering in your backyard.  Spend time with your kids.  These are mood-boosting and “bucket” filling.  (If you haven’t checked out the book, Simplify, I strongly recommend it!)  These are the important things in life to focus on, not cleaning your 4 bathrooms in your huge home.  As the minimalist said on the documentary, “Love people and use things.”  How can you love someone today?

Read more here.

Playing Hand and Foot

Hand and Foot

Hand and Foot shuffling

This card game called “Hand and Foot” is really popular in Florida.  You work on teams and play cards to make books.  The game duration varies in length, so there is time for talking and snacking.  We have a lot of fun in big groups playing this game.  Apparently, there are different versions of this game, depending on where you play.  Here’s the version that the Schell family uses.

Hand and Foot Rules

  1. Use one more deck of cards than the number of people playing.  For example, if there are 4 people, you will need 5 decks.  We bought a multi-card pack at Sam’s Club.
  2. Card point value: 4-7s are worth 5 points each, 8-10 and Face cards (King, Queen, Jack) are worth 10 points each, Ace and 2s are worth 20 points each (2 is a wild card), Joker is another wild worth 50 points, Red 3s are negative 300 points, Black 3s are worth 0 points.
  3. There are four rounds, with specific points required to begin laying down cards.  Round 1: 50 points, Round 2: 90 points, Round 3: 120 points, Round 4: 150 points.
  4. A completed book is 7 cards.  Red books have no wilds and are worth 300 points at the end of the round; Black books have wild cards and are worth 100 points.  We usually play that you have two Red books and 3 Black books before you can end the round.
  5. Black books must have one less wild card than non-wild cards.

How to Play Hand and Foot

  1. Assemble teams.  We usually play with 2-3 people on each team.  There can be 2-3 teams.  You cannot sit next to the person(s) who is/are on your team.
  2. Shuffle the cards really well.
  3. Hand and Foot starting outMake two piles of cards face down.  Each player turns over a card(s) from anywhere in the stack of cards, revealing its value.  The highest value goes first. Hand and Foot
  4. Each player tries to grab 22 cards.  If you do, your team gets 100 points.  Make two piles of 11 cards each, face down.  Just for the record, while I was laying cards out to snap a picture for this post, I got 22!  Woot woot.  Too bad it didn’t count. Hand and Foot starting out
  5. Keep one pile as yours to play.  You may look at these cards – this is called your hand.
  6. Pass the other pile to the person on your left.  They may not look at these cards yet – this is their foot.
  7. Organize your cards by grouping like cards together. Hand and Foot starting out
  8. When it is your turn, draw two cards and discard one card.  Plays move clockwise. Make sure to discard Red 3s!  Hand and Foot main pile
  9. One person from each team needs to have enough cards to lay out based on the points above.  You must have 3 cards of a kind.  You cannot make a book of 3s or wilds.
  10. Once one person from your team has laid out cards, other players can lay down their cards.  They may play off of cards already laid out or start new books. Hand and Foot starting out
  11. When you play all the cards in your hand, you go into your foot.  This can all happen in the same turn, meaning you can play right into your foot.
  12. Once you have the correct number of books (see above), you can get rid of all of your cards, called “going out.”  The team who goes out receives 100 points. Hand and Foot laid out
  13. Count the points of your books first, then your cards that you played, making sure to take out any cards that count against each player.
  14. Record points of teams, then shuffle and repeat.

 Just try it!

I know there are a lot of rules and things to remember!  When I started playing Hand and Foot, I remember feeling so overwhelmed. As with anything, the more that you play, the easier it will get.  We have played this game for years and really enjoy it.  So, give it a try!

 

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Jewelry Display DIY

I make my own diffuser jewelry to sell at craft shows and vendor events.  Displaying the jewelry was taking up soooooo much space on my table, that I wanted to come up with another way for a jewelry display.  Below are some of the necklaces that I have made.

diffuser jewelry

You put a piece of felt or those little pom poms inside the locket and then add the essential oil to that.  Read more about essential oils here.  Read why I use essential oils instead of perfume here.  I really like having them on the card stock for transporting and selling, but was struggling with displaying them for sale.  So, I decided to make my own display.

Make Your Own Jewelry Display

wire for project

I wanted to make something that was cheap (meaning using things that I already had laying around) and easy.  I had some extra wooden frames, clothespins and this floral wire.

pliers for project

  1. First, carefully remove the glass from the frame.
  2. Then, use pliers to cut the wire length.  I just held it up to the back of the frame and guessed.

cute little clothespins

3. Next, thread the wire through the spring part of the clothespins.  They will hang but still be able to spring open.

hot glue gun keeps wire in place

4. Use a hot glue gun to attach the wire ends to the back of the frame, making sure the little clothespins stay on.

clothespins on wire

Almost finished!  Jewelry display DIY at its best.

decorative paper added

5. Finally, add decorative paper – this is scrapbook paper – to the back, in addition to the backing of the frame.  Push down all those annoying little metal pieces to hold the frame back on.

ready to hang jewelry

6. Attach desired jewelry.  Or whatever you want.  I designed this to hold jewelry, but the options are endless.  You could hang pictures, notes, mail, etc.  Just decide what you are using it for before you create it, so you know where to put the wire and how many clothespins you will need.

finished project

Here’s another one that I made going landscape.   They were a big hit at the vendor event and helped draw people to my table.  The jewelry is usually a great seller.