For my Son in Heaven, on His Birthday

August 25, 2015 was without a doubt the most difficult day of my life. At times, I have said that it was the worst day- and while it certainly felt like it then, looking back I have found tremendous healing over what we experienced and have seen the goodness of the Lord in ways I didn’t expect. Worst- maybe not, but definitely the most difficult.

I woke up early in the morning in what I couldn’t deny was labor- after all, I had experienced it before- though I was barely out of my first trimester. The bleeding was intermittent but the contractions, the intense pain- it was unmistakable. This wasn’t a complete shock, as I had had some unexplained bleeding in the days prior- but a quick ER visit had shown a healthy, moving baby and no indication of why I was bleeding. I was put on bed rest and told to come back in 3 days to run blood panels again.

But that morning- I knew it was over. By the time I got to the hospital I couldn’t walk, the contractions were so strong. A quick ultrasound showed that our baby’s heart was still beating, but barely- and that my cervix was half dilated and the baby was very low- there was no stopping what was happening. My baby, healthy and moving around last night, was going to be born that day. At 14 weeks. There was no hope or comfort.

I was given morphine, zofran, and a myriad of other drugs to try to calm me and help the birth go quickly and help me be in less pain. You know what I was never given? An OB consult. I was left laying flat on my back in an ER room for hours- many times, totally alone. The morphine didn’t have any effect until the third try. I was in absolute hell.

Multiple times, I thought I had birthed the baby when I had really just passed massive blood clots. That feeling- something slipping from my body, was it the baby? and having to call for a nurse to come and check and identify and clean because we were too scared to look, for fear of what we would see- I will never forget it. After several hours of this passed, I begged for a d&c to just get it all over with. Put me out, let me wake up and be done. I was mentally at the end of my ability to comprehend what was happening and I needed an escape.

Thankfully, the cold and unfeeling ER doctor that I hate for every other reason but this one, told me he wanted to try breaking my water before he took me to surgery. And with that- the baby was born. A son, he confirmed for us after we begged him to please look and tell us (he didn’t want to). For all of his faults, I only got to meet my son because of his persistence and willingness to keep trying for a regular delivery. I am forever grateful.

The next half an hour was both a dream and a nightmare. Our son was placed in what is basically a medical grade tupperware container- and we were told that we couldn’t take him out or touch him. While I am sure the nurses had the best of intentions, there is nothing I regret more in my entire life than not taking him out and holding him. I think about it every day. At the time, I justified it, saying that I wouldn’t have had the emotional capacity to hold him. I wish I had pushed back. I wish I had done it.

We sang to our son through our tears and we prayed and we cried until we couldn’t anymore. It was the most intense and heartbreaking time of my life. We named him Hudson Robert- Hudson, after Hudson Taylor, a noteworthy missionary, and Robert after my grandfather and Matthew’s father. Hudson had always been our agreed upon boy name and it seemed right to give it to our first son.

In a moment of grace and clarity, our nurse encouraged us to take a photo of our son before his body was taken away. This photo- it’s all I have of him, besides my own hospital bracelets. It’s impossibly hard to look at and dwell on, and I guard it closely. But his tiny hands, fingers, nose- I can see them, even right now. My first thought was how morbid it was to take a photo- but I am so, so thankful that we did.

And then it was time to let him go- to the lab? For testing? and then to where? I don’t know, and it’s something that haunts me to this day. I now know that I could’ve fought to have his body returned to me so that we could’ve buried him. I didn’t know that then, but I will make sure that no one else makes the same mistake. If this ever happens to you, please- fight for your baby. Bury them like any other child. It will do your heart so much good.

I didn’t deliver the placenta so I ended up having to have surgery anyway. I was taken home soon after and basically laid on the couch and watched movies and ate ice cream and tried not to think about what had happened. Distraction was my best defense. The next hours and days were a blur- I was exhausted but couldn’t sleep, my hormones were totally out of whack, I was anemic, and I developed severe stress ulcers in my mouth that made it impossible for me to eat solid food for about 2 weeks. I lost almost 20 pounds. I oscillated between denial and depression and truly don’t know how I made it through. With the help of family, by the Lord’s grace.

The next few months were a blur of panic and trauma. Where we lived required me to drive past the hospital to go anywhere, which would immediately make my heart race and my eyes well up. I was intensely worried about Halle’s safety and struggled with debilitating anxiety and panic attacks many times when we would be in public. I swore I would never let myself get pregnant again. That I couldn’t handle it, anyway.

I also experienced (and, honestly, still continue to experience to some extent) some of the most intense doubt and questioning of my faith that I ever have. Church didn’t feel like a place that acknowledged or had room for pain like mine. Too many happy songs, encouraging sermons, fluffy prayers. Not enough rawness and honestly and doubt and pain.

The Lord placed some really incredible therapists in my life that helped me work through my anxiety, process my emotions, and take intentional steps to healing. I quickly realized that there were both good and bad things about Hudson’s birth day that I wanted to be able to either a) make sure that others experienced, should they go through a similar trial or b) make sure DIDN’T happen to others in the same situation. I entered into a training for birth ad bereavement doulas, where I learned how best to support families going through a loss like mine. The training was grueling and full of stories of loss- I truly cried every day that I worked through the material. Every exam. But it was worth it- and it helped me process through my emotions and experience much more quickly than I might have otherwise- though those months were emotionally draining and left me raw with pain.

Looking back on the past year- I don’t have any answers as to why this happened to our family. I can’t justify the pain that we felt- feel- “so that others might not have to go through this”, but it does take the edge off, sometimes. But when it comes down to it, I still just want to hold my son. I want to know him, be able to sing him to sleep and change his diapers and watch him learn to crawl soon and be exhausted at the end of the day from having two kids so little. I wanted to move to Rwanda with two babies. I miss him. I miss what he would’ve been, even if I will never know what that was. It doesn’t feel okay and I won’t pretend that it does. No one should have to go through pain like this- and if you’re reading this and you have a similar story, I am so sorry. It’s okay to sit in your pain sometimes. It’s real. Let it be real.

And so today, on the year anniversary of the birth of our son, Hudson- on his birthday- I will keep crying the tears and feeling the pain. I will be grateful for the gifts that a doctor and a nurse gave us, and yet be angry at the things the hospital took away from us, too. I will continue to question and be honest about my pain. I will remember every detail the best that I can. But most of all- I will continue to tell the hard story. I will be willing to share Hudson’s life and I will plead with the Lord that it will impact others in some way and that some kind of redemption will come out of this terrible thing. It’s all I know to do.

Hudson, I wish it was a comfort to me to think about you celebrating your first birthday in Heaven, with the Lord and with your siblings- and I wish that I could honestly say that I rejoice in that and that I think it’s better. My heart just isn’t there yet. I wish you were here with us and that you could bury your face in a blue cupcake and have a party and maybe sleep through the night (but probably not) and that we could celebrate a year of miracles and joy. I wish I could take a picture of you- “last night before he turns one!” or a special birthday hat or something. But I don’t get to do that for you- we don’t get to share those moments, and I guess coming to this day and this place it just all part of the grieving and healing process. Maybe next year, I’ll have it more together. Maybe not. I don’t even know if that’s what I want.

What I do want you to know is that you are so loved- and that you are remembered every day. We cherish the tiny memories we have of you, even in their difficulty, and we talk about you to your sister. You will always be out first son, even after your little brother comes in a few months. You’ll be here with us, with him- and we do take comfort in that.

Happy birthday, little one. You are never forgotten. You are so loved.

Mama

If you’d like to join us in remembering Hudson’s birthday today, we have decided to plant a tree or some kind of plant around our home each year on his birthday. While the transient nature of our life made me initially resistant to this idea, I have come to take a lot of comfort in thinking about leaving memorials to his life wherever we go. So plant a tree, or sow some flowers, get a little garden statue or bird feeder or something and say a little prayer of gratefulness for our son’s life. If you do, would you share it with us?

We are so grateful for the support and love of our friends and family over this past year. Words can never do justice to your kindness and grace. We love you endlessly.

If you are reading this and are experiencing or have experienced a similar loss, please feel free to reach out to me. I would be blessed to pray for you, answer any questions you might have, and offer any support or encouragement that I can.

If You Only Read ONE BOOK About Natural Fertility…

one book

 

When I first got married, I felt very strongly about avoiding any kind of hormonal birth control. That said, I also felt pretty strongly that I was not ready to have a baby- so I needed to find some kind of middle ground!

Luckily, a wise biology professor at my university (and also a La Leche League leader) had included a small segment on Natural Family Planning during my class the previous year, so I knew a little bit about it. Some other friends had explored the option as well, and everyone seemed to think that it was too much work. Well, I was committed. I saw my other friends having side effects from their meds, and I didn’t want it. NFP it was!

I read everything I could find- books, blogs, the works. and guess what? I didn’t get pregnant!

And then….I wanted to get pregnant.

Easy shift, right? All those times that you were avoiding doing the deed, now became the targets. Well- for some people, it’s just that easy. But for me…months went by and the positive tests never came.

I started to research fertility and look for resources that might point to why I wasn’t getting pregnant. To my surprise, one of the books I had previously read came up on every list- and, today, I want to tell you about it!

Taking Charge of Your Fertility is like the fertility Bible. Whether you are trying to get pregnant or trying to avoid getting pregnant, TCOYF will give you an amazing foundation of knowledge about your own body and what should and shouldn’t be happening, and when.

The most basic thing taught in TCOYF is how to chart your own cycle, based on a number of biological factors: basal body temperature (or, resting temp: taken first thing in the morning), amount and consistency of cervical mucous, height of cervix, and others. By getting more in touch with the natural signs of fertility your body gives throughout the month, it’s easier to know when you are most fertile- and then use that knowledge to whatever end you’re after.

Using the skills I learned in TCOYF, I was able to spot what could have been a hormonal imbalance in my own cycles- where my basal temperature was very very low and certain stages of my cycle were shorter than expected. I was even able to identify some cycles where I didn’t ovulate at all! What powerful knowledge- even if disappointing at times.

I was able to take my charts, and my suspicions, to my doctor, who ran tests to possibly diagnose the things I was seeing. How empowering!

I can’t tell you how many times I have seen people who are eating all the right things and doing all the right things, but lack a basic knowledge of how their body, and their fertility, really works- and it can totally change the game for them!

In short- if you are looking for ONE BOOK to help you learn about your body and your fertility, make it this one!

Lessons I’ve Learned in the 4 Years Since My First Miscarriage

four years

 

It’s hard to believe that this week is the 4 year anniversary of my first miscarriage. It had taken us almost a year to get pregnant, and we were so overjoyed! I still remember staring at the little bean on the ultrasound, being told that it was too small, and there was no heartbeat, like it was yesterday. The next week was a blur of tests and, eventually, a d&c in the hospital to end the pregnancy. My husband was out of town on his very first tour as a drummer, and I was alone. It was devastating.

4 years have past, and we couldn’t have know that this was just the first of three babies to be born into heaven in our family. I’ve learned a lot since that first precious little life left too soon, and I thought I would share some reflections.

MISCARRIAGE LOOKS DIFFERENT FOR EVERYONE, EVERY TIME

Each one of our losses was different- our first, a “missed miscarriage” at 11 weeks- my body still thought I was pregnancy though the baby had stopped living. The second, a “chemical pregnancy” at 7 weeks- the first ultrasound revealed no baby after I had started bleeding. The third, a horrific preterm labor birth at 14 weeks of our son, Hudson. Each experience was devastating in it’s own right, and came with it’s own emotions and consequences.

Our second miscarriage came after a surprise pregnancy that was due the same week we were supposed to move across the country- and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit comforted by the relief I felt to not have to work out those details. It was an intensely confusing time as I committed to being honest with my emotions- both the deep grief I felt and the strange peace that this must be the best plan.

LANGUAGE IS IMPORTANT, AND YOU CAN DECIDE FOR YOURSELF

This might be slightly controversial, but I feel like it’s been an important part of my journey to identify the language that reflects my experiences the best- which might not be the appropriate medical language. Our son’s birth at 14 weeks is still technically called a miscarriage. To me, this doesn’t at all accurately capture the gravity of what we experienced- he was alive, moving around and healthy just the night before, and his heart was still faintly beating even while I was laboring that morning. I labored for 5 hours and didn’t deliver him until my water was broken. The doctors could find nothing wrong with him, and no identifiable reason for my going into labor.

To me, this wasn’t a miscarriage- it was a stillbirth, or a very premature birth. I have found it extremely important to my healing process to give myself license to use those terms both in my heart and in conversation, because it most accurately reflects my experience and the gravity of my son’s loss. I think this is important for all parents to identify.

EVERYONE IS AWKWARD, EVERYONE IS TRYING

I have had horrible, shocking things said to me after our losses, ranging from “well at least you don’t have to deal with my 4 kids, take some time before you try again” to “well that baby probably had something wrong with it anyway” to “you’ll get pregnant again”. I’m sorry, what? Do people hear what they are saying? It’s unreal that people think these things bring comfort in times of such grief. Would you say those things to someone whose child just died?

I spent much of my time in the first few months and years being really angry at the seemingly insensitive things people would say to me- I just felt like they should know better. But as I prayed through my heart towards them and looked at my closest friends, I realized they couldn’t know better, because they haven’t experienced what I did. Saying anything at all so someone whose grief you don’t identify with is extremely brave, and these people were trying. And so I have learned to prayerfully bring my heart to the Lord and give grace out generously when I hear these comments.

THE LORD REDEEMS OUR PAIN AND BROKENNESS

Let me be the first person to tell you that “everything happens for a reason” is the worst phrase ever and takes the most prayer and grace for me to respond to with a smile. That’s not what I am saying here. I believe in my core that miscarriage and infant loss are not part of the Lord’s perfect plan and that they deeply grieve his heart. However, I also believe in the power of the Lord to take the pain that we experience, and take these little lives that we carry, and use them to build His kingdom.

My decision, early on in our infertility and loss journey, to remain open about our struggles has led to so much prayer and ministry for others in the past 4 years. I have been blessed to rejoice in countless surprise and miracle pregnancies, cry alongside dear friends through their losses, and feel the depth of friendship that I might not otherwise feel with so many women because of the babies I have lost and that I have shared. Do I think that’s why I lost them? No. Do I see that the Lord uses my pain when I let him? Yes. It’s a legacy that my babies will continue to live through in the years to come.

YOU AREN’T ALONE

When you go through any kind of loss experience, you will feel alone. At least, that was my experience- though I now realize that it isn’t true at all. As I have shared my story and my babies’ lives over the years, women have come out of the woodwork with their own stories. I don’t think everyone is called to be as open or as vulnerable and public with their stories as maybe I am, but know this: this affects so many more families than you realize. It’s estimated that 1 in 5 pregnancies ends in some type of loss- not to mention the countless families that struggle to get pregnant at all. If you are struggling, reach out- to me, to a loved one, to a trusted mentor or friend. The chances are that this pain isn’t as far from you as you might think.

If you are reading this and you have experienced your own loss, I am so sorry. I am here for you. If you are a loved one of someone who has lost a pregnancy or baby, I feel your grief, too. I am praying for you all.

Fighting Adrenal Fatigue, Naturally

fight adrenal

After losing our son in the early second trimester in August, my body just never recovered. I lost a lot of blood, resulting in plummeting iron levels and extremely low energy. Walking up the stairs, exercising, and even holding my daughter were exhausting to me.

Even when I got to a point where I was eating a very clean diet, pushing through workouts, and taking my multivitamins regularly, I still couldn’t shake the fatigue and general feeling of “unwell”. I gained 15-20lb in about 3 months. My self confidence was waning and I honestly felt hopeless.

Several friends encouraged me to research adrenal fatigue- and, boy, were they on to something! Adrenal fatigue is kind of complicated, but you can read up on it here. The general premise: stress and life events render your adrenal glands basically inactive. Your body stops making adrenaline, or produces it at inappropriate times, resulting in crazy fatigue but then sometimes insomnia and unnecessary panic. Weight won’t budge no matter what, exercise makes you feel worse, and you can have random bouts of inflammation. I had all of these symptoms and more.

Because I don’t currently have health insurance, I was cornered into a self-diagnosis through trial and error. However, I am happy to report that after about 6 weeks, I am already starting to feel much better! So, I want to share some of the lifestyle changes that I have made to fight my battle with adrenal fatigue.

Cut out the caffeine…
This was so hard for me! I was drinking 4-6 cups of coffee throughout the day and I was feeling NOTHING. No jolt, nothing. It does’t help that I like the taste of coffee, the feeling of a warm mug in my hands- so yeah, it was an issue. Overusing caffeine, particularly after 12PM, overworks and confuses the adrenal glands. So out went coffee.

Now, if I have any, I drink decaf or maybe a half cup of regular- and I feel it. Instead, we drink Chaga concentrate or sometimes even Mate!

…and the sugar…
Sugar functions much like coffee in that it makes it more difficult for the adrenal glands to function properly, let alone the myriad other health issues it causes. Out goes the sugar. Boo!

…and the gluten.
Same thing. Gluten takes a lot of work for the body to digest, and when the body needs to be healing instead…you need to conserve that energy. I am not 100% gluten free at this point, but I try to limit my consumption as much as possible to give it the break it needs.

Support your body’s natural rhythms.
ACV and honey in the morning help naturally jumpstart the metabolism and support the adrenals! Also, see the supplements below.
Magnesium and chamomile or lavender at night- help relax the body and the mind. Tell your body that it’s time to shut off and sleep! I love to drink this magnesium just before bed.
Epsom salt baths to relax at night- again, helps relax the body and get ready for sleep. These are particularly helpful if you are struggling with any kind of sleeping issues. This kind is great!

Add in supplements to support healing.
Ashwagandha, ginseng, and ginkgo biloba all support the adrenals and productively manage stress. You can find formulas with all of these, or each individually. There are also adrenal support specific formulas that often include these.

Support your healing with essential oils.
Essential oils can be very supportive of the healing process. Using “awakening” oils in the morning, such as citruses or mints, and calming oils in the evenings, like lavender, chamomile, or cedarwood, can further support the body’s new rhythms. There are also oils that specifically support the adrenals, such as rosemary and lemongrass. For more information on essential oils and for purchasing options, please email me: karli.vonherbulis@gmail.com.

Replenish minerals and vitamins and FEED your adrenals with SOLE.
Sole water is one of the best ways to do this! Sole is a high-mineral salt water infusion that is drank on an empty stomach each morning (ideally). You can buy high quality sea salt crystals made specifically for making sole and make it at home! This has made a huge difference in my healing process and I have come to (almost) crave the taste :)

Limit heavy cardio and stick to restorative exercise
For most healing protocols, this sounds counterintuitive- but when your body isn’t making energy hormones to even get you through the day, making them for a sweaty cardio sesh just isn’t gonna work. Stick to things like yoga, tai chi, or walking until you feel your energy starting to return.

SLEEP!
For the love, your body is healing! Go to bed early, sleep in if you can, nap if you need it. This is a good, good thing!

Have you suffered from adrenal fatigue? What was helpful for you in recovery?

Resources for Intentional Living

“Intention” and “Purpose” have been two HUGE words for me in the past year. The Lord led me to choose “PURPOSE” as my word for 2015- and it’s been a hell of a ride so far figuring out all of the details. What is my purpose? As a wife, mother, businesswoman, friend, family member, believer, consumer, community member? How do I navigate all of the nitty gritty of life and be sure that I’m doing everything well, with love, and to the best of my ability?

I want to share with you some resources that have helped guide my heart- and head- in the past year. Some are gentle reminders placed around my home, others are productivity tools that keep me centered, still others are books that have shepherded my heart through this season. I hope you’ll find something that speaks to you!

BOOKS

Hands Free Mama– Hands down (ha!) the most important book I read in my first year of mothering. Forget all of the other parenting books, if you are intentional and present with your babies, all shall be well.

The Best Yes– I’m actually in the middle of this right now, but it’s really encouraging and challenging me. This is all about freeing yourself up to say YES to the things that the Lord wants you to do- the life-giving, challenging, heart-altering things that we might miss with our busy lives otherwise.

Make It Happen– Similar to The Best Yes, Lara’s book helps women identify the things that bring them joy and please the heart of the Father. I learned so much about myself and what I value and need in my spirit by going through this book- and I live those things out much more intentionally.

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up– A more practical book, this one helps you minimize your physical clutter to bring your home more peace. Basically, being intentional with your belongings. I’ve done this and I do it every day and I feel so much healthier for it!

PRODUCTIVITY and GOAL SETTING
Emily Ley’s Simplified Planner and Simplified Journal– Can’t live without these. My planner gets used EVERY day and my journal helps me get my thoughts in order and really identify how I’m feeling about things. They are both so well thought out and perfect for bringing both joy and order to your purposeful life.

Lara Casey’s Power Sheets– This goal setting system helps you identify what really matters to you and create a gracious plan to make those things happen!While I don’t always get to do them each month, I do them as often as I can and they help me feel so centered.

Mint.Com- More practical, but this financial tool helps you see where your money is going and set budgets and goals. Super helpful is financial intentionality is part of your game.

She Reads Truth App- Ah! This beautifully written and designed devotional app is just the right amount of truth and encouragement for a busy mama reheating her coffee for the third time (no? just me?)

LOVING REMINDERS
Prints from Katie Daisy- Love these whimsical art prints.
Phone Backgrounds and Apparel from Lara Casey
Jesus & Coffee Mug from ChalkFullofLove

Please Note: This blog post may contain affiliate links. I promise to never share something with you that I don’t wholeheartedly endorse and use myself, and absolutely love! Affiliate links never add any cost for you, but do help support my family’s ministry. Thanks for reading, you’re great!

Why I Quit Blogging… But I Might Start Again

It’s been almost 4 years since I started writing this blog….and over 8 months since I’ve posted anything new. It was abrupt, unplanned, and maybe even rude on my part to quit writing without explanation…so today, you’re going to get one.

This blog was born out of a desire to educate my community on what was happening around them and how they, as responsible consumers, could be a part of a change. Originally titled “Feed Me, Feed the World”, the idea behind the blog was to provide information and inspire my readers to think logically about the choices they were making with their lifestyles and intentionally choose to build the kingdom- whether that was with their dollars or their diets. I wanted to bring to light companies that weren’t doing a great job taking care of the earth and it’s inhabitants, and highlight the companies that were. I wanted to share my journey to natural health honestly and candidly, and hopefully give tips and ideas along the way that might be useful to others in their journeys. I wanted it to be organic: unplanned, truthful, and sincere. Somewhere along the line, I lost my way.

What once was an outlet for me to share what I was learning and was passionate about became a way to bring in income and get fun things for my family. While I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with this (I actually loved this), it changed the way I wrote and WHY I wrote. I found myself choosing topics that would get traffic, creating blog series based on items I wanted to review, and linking in items to posts so that I could make a bit of money. As I learned more about the business of blogging, my readership grew- and so did the benefits. But I didn’t enjoy it anymore. Suddenly, blogging felt like work- and I felt like I was cheating myself and using my readers.

So, I stopped. I still don’t know if I am starting again- but I am going to try. I am still very put off by the natural health blogging industry right now- the posting of ambiguous Amazon links that leave cookies in your browser, the sponsored content, the camps against each other. Yes, there are still MANY wonderful, amazing bloggers that are blogging full time and doing it well and honestly and passionately, but I have seen too many people who don’t seem to be sharing their hearts and just share their recommendations. I tried it, and it’s not for me. So I’m moving on.

From now on, no more strict schedule. If I write something, it’s because it’s spilling out of my soul and I HAVE to write it. I hope it happens often, but if not- I’m going to practice grace. This isn’t my job anymore. It’s just an outflow of love.

Coming soon- a little rebranding. I don’t have a launch date. No planned content. But changes are coming (lots of them!) coming and they are going to be beautiful. I hope you’ll join me…

What would you like to read about? <3

How One Book Changed Me As A Mother

How One Book Changed Me As A Mother

I really, truly, didn’t expect it.

I was lucky enough to be an author for the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle that ran last April and, with my participation, received a free copy of the bundle for myself. I downloaded all of the books, redeemed the bonus items, and went along my merry way. As a new mom, I appreciated the resource that this would be to me at some point, but I figured that I didn’t have time to dive into eBooks with my busy, sleep-deprived life.

It wasn’t until a few months later that I realized what development, encouragement, and growth I was missing out on. Several other authors were raving over the books that they were reading, so I decided to devote just a few minutes of one naptime each day to reading a bit of a book from the bundle. The first one I chose was “The Unwired Mom” by Sarah Mae. Formatted as a 2-week challenge, it seemed attainable and primed to both encourage me and help be grow as a parent. I had no idea.

Through reading this book, I realized just how much I was missing out on in my steadily-growing daughter’s life. How often I was looking at my phone instead of at her. How I spent many days trying to keep her occupied so that I could get work done for my business. How I was writing blogs about being an intentional, present mother, but I was not practicing that at all in my life.

I was broken.

I was undone by these discoveries within myself.

I quickly instituted new rules for myself and my technology use, especially when my daughter was awake. Phone would be for communication only. Social media and business were to wait until naptime, after bedtime, or designated business hours when I knew that Daddy was being present with her. I didn’t want to miss out anymore. I didn’t want to be a slave to novelty, to the approval of others, to a piece of technology. I wanted to be wholly consumed and fulfilled by being Mama.

It dawned on me the other day that I very easily could’ve missed out on this new focus in my life. What if I hadn’t decided to devote a bit of time to reading and challenging myself? What if I had doubted the importance of investing in myself as a homemaker?

Friends, this could be you in just a few months. I don’t care if you buy the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle from me, or whomever- but please, buy it for yourself. Take a few minutes each day to see yourself grow as a mother and a homemaker.

What book will it be that changes you as a mother?

Will it be a book with tons of gluten-free recipes that will revolutionize how you cook nourishing meals for your family?

Maybe it’ll be a book that teaches the importance of celebrating the Christian calendar as a family, and shows you ways to incorporate it into your household celebrations!

Will it be a book that teaches you about home remedies for your family, and encourages you to celebrate the gifts that the Lord has given us on this earth?

Will it be an eCourse on essential oils that will empower you to take control of your family’s health?

Maybe it’ll be the free amber teething jewelry you’ll receive as a bonus item, or the mouth healing essential oil blend. Maybe the 4 months of at-home yoga will inspire you to live a healthier lifestyle for your family. It could even be the free yogurt culture you’ll receive as a bonus item that takes money off of your budget each month.

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Who knows what that one special, impactful thing will be for you?!

Friends, investing in yourself as a homemaker is priceless. You need to be encouraged, to grow, to be challenged, and to be inspired- and I truly don’t know of a better resource than the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle. It will revolutionize you as a mother, a wife, and a keeper of your home. Take a step. Invest in yourself and in your family!

A Necklace for Teething Pain? Seriously? {a skeptic’s review of baltic amber}

amber necklaces review

“It all seems a little hocus-pocus if you ask me.”

I remember saying those word sot my husband as we strolled through a local natural medicine store. Shelves full of pretty rocks had caught my eye- and as I looked closer, I learned that these treasures were actually crystals used for their certain powers and characteristics they possess. Some would bring you courage, others would increase productivity, still others would help you embrace positivity. He who possessed the crystals had the powers. “This is weird… I can’t get into this.”

That slightly-creeped-out feeling followed me into the early stages of my pregnancy, where I was first exposed to the therapeutic use of Baltic Amber to treat teething pain in infants. The premise of a certain type of stone being able to take away my baby’s pain hearkened me back to the pretty shelves of rocks that promised to make my dreams come true. I was NOT HAVING ANY PART OF IT.

And yet… more and more mothers, whose opinions I respected, seemed to be turning to these amber necklaces and having good results! “The placebo effect doesn’t exist in babies,” a friend told me, “they can’t fool themselves into thinking something works. It either helps, or it doesn’t- and this definitely does!”

So, reluctantly, I put some baltic amber jewelry on my baby registry- and I was blessed with both a necklace and a bracelet! Of course, being a first-time-mom and believing that, given the right tools, I could forgo the horrible months of teething altogether, sweet Hallelujah was christened with her amber at the first sign of teething- a bit of drool and putting things in her mouth around 3 months old.

Now, of course, I realize that she wasn’t teething at all- rather, she was simply experiencing a normal developmental milestone for her age and experiencing the world with her mouth! So, off came the amber, and we continued on with our lives.

Flash forward several months and a cross-country move later, and Halle is SCREAMING for an entire day. Make that almost a week. Why? I have no idea. Until one afternoon, when I swipe her mouth after she inevitably puts something in it, and a small sharp something grazes my finger…

…A TOOTH!

Yes, at 7 months old, an adorable, solitary little tooth had made it’s entrance into the world. Into my world. Into my daughter’s mouth, causing her great pain. Causing her to SCREAM ALL WEEK! It all made sense now! But… where was the amber? I knew I had seen it somewhere int he move….right?

Finally, after about an hour’s frantic search, I found it. The glorious, golden necklace of supposed promise. I clasped it carefully around her neck and waited for the screams to continue. I even walked to the bathroom and grabbed the Lavender oil to apply to calm her down…

….but nothing happened.

There were no more screams. Ever. Even as I write this, weeks later, she’s not once screamed out of pain (and mamas, you know that you can tell the difference). Oh my, did I just become a believer in these amber necklaces?

Yes, friends. Yes I did.

So, let’s talk about how this stuff actually works. First of all, baltic amber isn’t actually a stone, it’s a resin. Like pine sap or maple syrup, when it hardens it forms a resin? Same kind of deal. So, when your sweet one wears the baltic amber jewelry on their skin, it is warmed ever so slightly. When this happens, it begins to break down- not nearly enough to feel sticky or like it’s disintegrating, but enough to release some therapeutic benefits onto your child’s skin and, subsequently, into their bloodstream.

One of these therapeutic benefits is the release of a substance called succinic acid. This acid, present in amber in up to 8% by weight, has a gentle analgesic effect, relieving the pain that the baby is experiencing.

Pretty cool, huh?

What’s even cooler- you can get some baltic amber jewelry FOR FREE this week, with the purchase of an Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle!

That’s right, my friends- when you purchase this incredible library of homemaking and healthy living resources (hey, my book is in there, too!) you get your choice of a FREE baltic amber baby bracelet or adult bracelet from Sweetbottoms Baby!

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It’s Here!

We all want to make better health and lifestyle decisions for ourselves and those we love. We want to lose some weight, have more energy, use greener products, create nutritious meals for our families, get fit, and feel confident that we’re doing all we can to prevent serious diseases.

But it’s so easy to feel overwhelmed and intimidated by the masses of healthy living advice out there – to the point where we’re frozen into complete inaction instead!

That’s where The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle comes in. For the ridiculously low price of just $29.97 (for the PDF version) or $39.97 (for the eReader version), you can get access to a carefully curated collection of eBooks and eCourses with a total combined value of $1,030.

The bundle contains a wealth of information from the very finest healthy living writers out there – but there’s no risk of getting overwhelmed! A useful Getting Started Guide is included with your purchase, which will help you identify the most valuable resources for your specific health priorities.

The Ultimate Bundles team has done all the hard work for you – finding the top experts across a number of healthy living fields and combining their products into one essential collection. If you want to take control of your health, there’s no better way to start!

The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle will only be on sale for 6 days – from 8am EST on Wednesday, September 10 until 11:59pm EST on Monday, September 15.

But don’t wait until the last moment – there are only 30,000 bundles available and once they’re gone, they’re gone!

You can buy with confidence because your purchase is covered by the Ultimate Bundles one-year guarantee: you have a full year to enjoy all the books and courses in the bundle, and if you don’t feel like it’s made a huge difference to your family’s health, you’ll get your money back in full!

Click here for more info or to buy now.

As if this great collection of eBooks and eCourses wasn’t enough, the Ultimate Bundles team has also partnered with 10 fantastic companies who’ve each agreed to give a special bonus to every buyer. The bonuses have a total value of over $200 – more than 5 times the price of the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle itself!

The bonuses include free goodies aplenty: a bottle of Healthy Mouth Blend from OraWellness, a baltic amber bracelet from Sweetbottoms Boutique, and a starter culture from Cultures For Health. You’ll also get gift sets from Made On Skin Care Products and Homegrown Collective.

There are virtual goodies, too – a 4-month membership to StayAtHomeYoga.com and a 3-month premium membership to meal planning service Tradishen. And as if all that weren’t enough, there are also $15 gift certificates for TheJoyfulGiraffe.com, Strawesome.com and Trilight Health. There is a nominal shipping charge for many of the bonuses, based on each company’s standard shipping rates, and is usually $3-5.

Here’s what you need to know about the sale:

When? 7 a.m. EST Wednesday, September 10 until 11:59 p.m. EST Monday, September 15

What? 73 eBooks and 7 audio & eCourses, PLUS over $200 worth of bonus products you’ll really use!

Where? Purchase the bundle HERE.

How much? Well now, that’s the best part. The entire package is worth $1030, and it’s selling for less than $30. Sweet deal, right?

Click here for more info or to buy now.

Want to know exactly what’s included in the bundle?

Take a look through the categories, as well as the full list of eBooks and eCourses.

We think there’s something here for everyone, and don’t forget… our Getting Started Guide will show you exactly which resources cover the topics and health concerns that matter most to you!

Alternative Health & Home Remedies

Audio Courses & eCourses

Fitness

Gardening & Homesteading

Green Cleaning

Healthy Children

Meal Budgeting & Planning

Natural Beauty & Skincare

Real Food Recipes

Seasonal

Special Diets

Click here for more info or to buy now.

Remember, this bundle is available for 6 days only, from 7 a.m. (EST) on Wednesday, September 10th to 11:59 p.m. (EST) on Monday, September 15th.

Disclosure: I have a book that is included in this bundle, so your purchase will be a direct blessing to my family! Read the fine print about this bundle and read the answers to frequently asked questions about the bundle.

 

A Farm Mama’s Little Beauty Secret

I like having pretty nails.

Yes, I preach simplicity and frugality and Christlike femininity- and I don’t think that any of those are discounted here. I don’t have an addiction to expensive manicures that fill my lungs with chemicals and empty my bank account. Nope, wrong blog.

I just…. I like my nails to be pretty!

But you know what? I’m a MOM.

And I’m BUSY.

And I LIVE ON A FARM.

So my nails? Gross. Total afterthought. Always broken and chipping and dirty. We farm girls call it the “farmicure”- it looks like a french manicure with dark tips, except it’s actually just dirt under your nails. I know, REAL CUTE.

This is my life.

Until…THESE BABYS.

Yes, Jamberry Nail Wraps. You’ve heard of them, yes? Well, for good reason. These little gems are transforming the nails of mamas everywhere. You are still skeptical? Well, I was too…

So, yes. I am a mom, and a farm wife, and all that those things entail- diapers, dishes, groceries, bills, cooking, the occasional planting, washing really dirty laundry. But, I’m also a blogger and I run a successful business from my home- which has me working several hours a day, while my little love is sleeping, typing away on my computer. All of these things have it out for my nails- and they were winning. I can’t find a polish that will last more than a day without chipping. Even the few times that I’ve been blessed with a fancy set of gel nails at a salon, I hardly get more than 2 or 3 days without chips- hardly worth the money.

Knowing how much I loved having my nails pretty and yet seeing my frustration at the wasted effort as they were quickly ruined, the promise of “14 chip-free days” that Jamberry made appealed to me instantly. I was sent some samples to put to the test! (you can get a free sample this week by joining our party on Facebook!)

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These are my nails on day 1. Yes, you have to apply them yourself, which can be a little tedious- but Jamberry lays out the steps clearly for you, and the whole process doesn’t take longer than half an hour. The best part- they aren’t wet. EVER. So if your sweet little wakes up mid-application? No big deal. Pick it up at your next nap time. I was thrilled with how these turned out, and I just used the tools that I had at home- a blow drier, nail file, and some scissors (not even nail-specific ones).  Best part? THIS is how much I have left after this manicure! SO MUCH LEFT!

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Here are my nails on day 16- yes, two days longer than the promised 2 weeks. Really, I took them off because I wanted to change them. They still looked great and would’ve lasted MUCH longer. I love them- and I am hooked!

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The dealbreaker for me about Jamberry wraps, though, is the price- just $15 for a sheet, and then if you buy 3 sheets, you get 1 FREE. So, 4 sheets for $45, and each sheet gives you 2-3 manicures average- I fins it will give me 4-5! So you’re talking anywhere from 8-20 manicures for $45. HELLO FRUGAL BEAUTY JACKPOT!

Even more frugal? Getting them for free…which you can, if you win my giveaway! YAY! You can find me giving away sheets on my Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter accounts! Get to it, y’all!

You can also get more information about Jamberry, free samples, and enter to win even MORE free stuff over at my pop-up Jamberry Party! Thanks to Megan Dequine of CA for setting up this great opportunity and being an incredible consultant. Also, if you’re in FL, look up my sweet SIL Monica Von Herbulis- she’s selling, too!