COURAGE | Sakura Bloom Sling Diaries Submission

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I wish that I could say that I came into the motherhood game with courage- head held high, ready to take on the world. The truth is, that just isn’t how it happened for me. I may have once felt ready, felt secure in my call to motherhood, a few years back- but when we lost our first baby, a sweet angel at 11 weeks, the wind fell swiftly out of my sails. I was flooded with doubts of my future as a mother- doubts that remain in my heart to this day. But through my daughter’s life, and the things she is teaching me, I am slowly learning to have courage again.

When I was sure that an early ultrasound would reveal another miscarriage, there was her tiny fluttering heartbeat, telling me to have the courage to claim a viable pregnancy.

When I was overcome with exhaustion and morning sickness, there were her tiny kicks, helping me have the courage to get through the day.

When I was scared that something might be anatomically wrong with our growing little girl, there she was, sucking her thumb on the ultrasound screen, showing me that I should have the courage to imagine a bright future for my child.

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When my due date came and went, and my anxious heart awaited her arrival, there were her daily hiccups, assuring me that she was just fine- and my courage to step forward in motherhood would grow.

When labor was erratic and intense and unpredictable, and I was scared that I couldn’t make it through, there she was, in a perfect position and with a perfect heartbeat, giving me the courage to have the natural water birth I desired for us.

When she got stuck in my pelvis and was without oxygen for a minute or so, and I feared that her life was already over, there was her cry, beckoning me to courageously take on the most important role of my life- being her mother.

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Each day since Hallelujah’s birth 3 months ago has been a seesaw of fear and courage. I’m quickly learning, however, that this is the essence motherhood– doing the impossible, conquering your fears, and creating the future together. As the days become harder, may my courage grow, to be overshadowed only by joy.

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The Ultimate DIY Home Cleaning Roundup

The Ultimate DIY Cleaning Roundup: 101+ Recipes!

Cleaning- for many of us, it’s the bane of our existence. Windows always seem dirty, carpets need to be vacuumed, and what was it that overflowed from the pot and into the oven grates? Quinoa?

A good Spring deep cleaning can feel a little overwhelming at first, but it’s often the key to keeping a clean house year-round. When you start off with a beautiful home, it’s easier to put in the extra effort to keep it that way!

Today on the Bulk Herb Store blog, !’ve rounded up a ‘green’ recipe for just about every cleaning project under the sun. It’s time to get your clean on- naturally!

Follow me over to the Bulk Herb Store blog to find 101+ DIY cleaning recipes!

DIY Soothing Postpartum Padsicles

Make Your Own Soothing Postpartum Padsicles

One of my favorite projects to prepare for the birth of my daughter was making Padsicles. These frozen pads of postpartum healing goodness are so easy to make, and they are full of great ingredients to speed the healing of the perineum and surrounding areas!

I’m sharing the how-to’s of padsicle making over at Modern Alternative Mama. Follow me there and get the full instructions after the jump!

The Blessed Home {GIVEAWAY!}

As many of you know, I was blessed to co-author a lovely devotional book for women with several other bloggers in the past few months.  This project, called Set Apart, features daily reflections on the words of Proverbs 31- and guides us through looking at our own lives and examining how we might better reflect Christ in our marriages and in our homes. Well, I am excited to share that the authors and I have teamed up to bring you a giveaway full of gorgeous Martha and Mary products!

This giveaway is for over $100 worth of Mary and Martha products. If you are unfamiliar with Mary and Martha here is a quick run-down: A child company of Dayspring; Mary and Martha focus on helping you make entertaining simple. All products point to scripture with beautiful table settings, wall decor and more. Be sure to check our their site! (seriously, check it out to earn more entries in the giveaway!)

Blessed Home

One lucky winner will receive all of the items pictured above.

  • Blessed by the Grace of God wall hanging. Retailed at $54, this hanging measures 22 3/8″ x 15 3/4″ and is handcrafted in India.
  • Count Your Blessings Table Runner. Retailed at $32, this runner contains stamped on thankful messages, and is 72″ long x 13″ wide.
  • Blessings Placemats. Retailed at $22 these stamped placemats contain thankful sayings such as “Give Thanks”, “Savor the Moment”, “Have Seconds” and “Say Grace”.

Giveaway Sponsored by:

Kendra Stamy, A Proverbs 31 Wife.
Danielle Tate, More Than Four Walls.
Sarah Nichols, Simple Life, Abundant Life.
Jennifer Fountain, Growing Up Triplets.
Karli Von Herbulis, Feed Me Mama.
Anjanette Barr, Raising the Barrs.
Virginia George, Virginia George .Com.
Whitney Cornelison, Beauty in the Mess.
Ashley Roe, Joyful Thrifty Home
Jane Martin, Mary and Martha Independant Consultant.

US Winner only, Giveaway dates are April 23rd through April 28th. Prize will be shipped directly from Mary and Martha.

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10 Things We Can’t Live Without (3 Months Old!)

10 thing We Can't Live Without for our 3 Month Old 3 months

Hello friends!

We celebrated sweet Hallelujah‘s 3 month birthday this past week, and I thought I would share what some of our favorite things are these days. She’s definitely grown into an infant now- no longer a newborn, and her interests and needs have definitely changed!

If I’ve said it once, I’ll say it a thousand times- Halle is an amazing baby, and I am totally spoiled and ruined for my future children should they be anything but good like her. She still wakes up every 2-3 hours at night to nurse (which I expect at 3 months old) but she naps great during the day, nurses like it’s her job, smiles and coos ALL THE TIME, loves to be worn, and even tolerated a 14 hour roadtrip with (mostly) smiles this past week. She’s obsessed with chewing on her hands, laughing at my silly songs, and pulling on my hair (hello, Permabun!). I could never have imagined this kind of love!

So, what you’ve been waiting for- our list of must-haves for a 3-month-old!

Wubbanub– If you’ve never seen these, they are super adorable and make finding a dropped or thrown pacifier a breeze- especially at night or int he car! A Soothie pacifier is attached to a small stuffed animal that is perfectly weighted to keep itself near your babe’s mouth, even if they let go of the pacifier itself. We have two, they have names, and we all totally love them.

Ergo baby carrier– I have sung the praises of the Ergo many times, and it continues to be a lifesaver for both myself and my husband- he wears it, too! They are completely worth the investment. If you need more information about soft structured carriers, you can see this past week’s post here.

Hyland’s Colic Calm Tablets– I was a believer in homeopathy before I had Halle, but I definitely am now that I’ve seen it’s effects on her! Whenever she seems to have gas or a tummy ache, we give her one of these tablets and she is usually almost immediately happy or will fall asleep. Totally worth it for a few dollars a bottle.

The Bumbo seat. Okay, I know that in crunchy mama circles, the jury is out on the validity of the Bumbo so I’m not gonna go into the supposed developmental benefits. I wear my child 80% of the time, but sometimes I need a break- and if she’s awake, she loves to sit in her Bumbo and look around. We eat breakfast and read the Bible together this way every morning!

Seventh Generation baby wipes– we’re slowly transitioning to cloth wipes, but disposables are just easier on-the-go. I’ve tried a few natural brands of wipes, and my favorite is definitely Seventh Generation. They aren’t too soapy but not too dry either; no parabens, fragrances, or dyes. It’s not a square of flannel and castile soap, but it works for us when we’re out.

My doTerra Family Physicial Kit– Again, I’ve sung the praises before, but we truly use this every single day. Halle gets OnGuard on her feet every morning, DigestZen on her belly when she has a tummy ache, Lavender in her bathwater, and Breathe on her chest if she seems congested (all diluted properly, of course). For more information on Essential Oils, click here.

Little hanging toys on the car seat. Distraction is a great thing for my little one who hates car rides and screams for at least the first 10 minutes!

Medela Calma bottle– the only one my little love will take. She only gets a bottle when I’m gone over a feeding time (so, 3 times in her life), but knowing that we have a bottle that she’s okay with makes it easier for me to leave.

Hudson Baby Organic Onesies– These are so adorable, what with their little vegetable puns and organic cotton and super cheap price tag. I’m not ashamed to say that I want them all.

How To Raise a Healthy Child…In Spite of Your Doctor. I’m slowly working through this book, written by a pediatrician, and it’s really opening my eyes to the world of children’s healthcare and how dependent we have become on doctors. This is not a hate letter to healthcare professionals; rather, it’s a call to parents to educate themselves and make conscious decisions for the health of their families.

And a bonus- my iPad and my Ultimate Homemaking Bundle books. This bundle is for sale starting on Wednesday and it is AMAZING! Over $1000 worth of books, courses, and bonuses and it’s all available for just $29.97. I can’t put my advance copy down- there’s some especially great baby and parenting books in this one!

Instant Homemaking Library- Less Than $30! {COMING SOON}

For Christmas this past year, my mom gifted me a bundle of eBooks. I had never really heard of bundle book sales until I started blogging, but WOW- this is an incredible way to build your resources as a homemaker, learn more about the things you are passionate about, and get some fun stuff, too!

When I heard about another bundle sale coming around, I knew that I wanted to be a part of it. Some other blogger friends and I got together and wrote Set Apart, a devotional for women on the attributes of the Proverbs 31 woman. While you can buy it separately, it’s a part of this bundle sale, too.

But what’s the big deal about bundles, you ask?

Bundle sales give you the opportunity to purchase a large number of amazing books at a very, very low price. A lot of times, other fun things are included- webinars, sponsor freebies, etc- this bundle is no exception!

Because I am an author of a book in the sale, I have pre-access to the contents, and let me tell you- the lineup is amazing. So many great books are in this bundle sale!

Yes, being an author also means that I get pre-access to the bundle’s goodies too. And let me tell you…they are amazing!

The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle goes on sale next week- I hope you are as excited as I am. This is an amazing investment in your health and in the health and growth of your family!

Babywearing Basics: The Soft Structured Carrier

Babywearing Basics: The Soft Structured Carrier

Welcome back to my Babywearing Basics series! If you’re joining us for the first time, you can catch the rest of the series HERE.

If I could tell you to get one carrier that would satisfy all of your baby wearing needs, it would be a soft structured carrier. There are many different brands on the market, but the most popular seems to be the Ergobaby– that’s what I have been using since Halle was very small, and I absolutely love it. Not only that, but my husband loves it, too! Other brands include the Baby Bjorn, Lillebaby, Stokke, and Infantino.

Babywearing Basics: Soft Structured Carriers
Babywearing Mommy Jamie with son, Dallas

A soft structured carrier is just like it sounds- while it is made of soft, padded material, it also has a basic form- almost like a backpack-type of feel. There is pretty much one way to wear the baby in the carrier (though it can go on your back, or even hip in some cases), and the baby has one position. However, these carriers are very user-friendly, very secure, and quickly become the go-to carrier for many moms!

Babywearing Basics: Soft Structured Carriers
Reader Amanda with her adorable sons, Lincoln and Lawson

For example, my baby is in my Ergo carrier right now as I type. We woke up later than normal this morning, and because I was eager to get started with my day, I grabbed the Ergo and had the baby on my chest in just a few seconds. Quick, easy, secure. She is fast asleep and has been for about an hour!

PROS

  • Can carry children from birth through preschool
  • Can perform front, hip, and back carries
  • Great for daddies or those less enthusiastic about baby wearing
  • Easily adjusts and transfers to another caregiver
  • Feels very secure- straps and buckles instead of wraps and knots
  • Comfortable- distributes weight well between both shoulders and back
  • Top choice for hiking or other activities
  • Comes in a variety of colors, including organic cotton options

CONS

  • Some require a separate insert to use when baby is under 12 pounds
  • Can be bulky, especially with insert
  • Doesn’t travel neatly- lots of straps and padding- takes up a whole diaper bag!
  • Hard to be seated in- I find I have to stand with her in this carrier
  • Can be an awkward ‘transition period’ between when baby likes legs froggied and when they are ready to spread across mom’s belly
  • Some carriers that allow forward facing options put children at risk for hip dysplasia
Babywearing Basics: Soft Structured Carriers
Babywearing Mama Sara displaying a proper forward-facing carrier
Babywearing Basics: Soft Structured Carriers
Babywearing Daddy, Dave, with daughter Aria
Babywearing Basics: Soft Structured Carriers
Babywearing Daddy Brandon with daughter Autumn

 

DIY Detoxifying Cream Deodorant

DIY Detoxifying Cream Deodorant

One of the most unfortunate things about trying to live a pure, natural, healthy life is the price tag that often comes with those choices! Quality products made with responsible ingredients just cost more money to manufacture. This is especially true when it comes to health, beauty, and hygiene products.

One of the first natural hygiene products I tried back in college was a natural deodorant. It was horrible. It smelled awful, made me sweat more- it was just nasty. Now, I realize that my body was probably detoxing from the years of using normal antiperspirants, which simply clog the pores rather than absorbing moisture. Sweat is natural and good! When the body sweats and you’ve used an antiperspirant, it continues to produce sweat as it fights the blockage of the pores, causing an overproduction of sweat. When you make an abrupt switch to a deodorant that doesn’t block the pores (such as this one), there can be an adjustment period as the body learns that it doesn’t have to overproduce anymore!

That said, it is important to note that this is a DEODORANT, not an ANTI-PERSPIRANT. You will sweat! However, with the addition of cornstarch and bentonite clay, I think you’ll find that you stay very dry- I know I do.

Today, I want to share a recipe that I had been dying to concoct for quite a while, and I think I’ve finally got it down. I received a lovely sample of a cream deodorant in a Conscious Box I got a few months back, and I fell in love with the concept. It took me a bit to get it right, but this made a batch that I totally love, cost next to nothing, and will last a really long time. Exactly what I needed!

This morning, I am sharing my Detoxifying Cream Deodorant recipe over at Modern Alternative Mama!

CLICK HERE to view the post and make your own deodorant that will detox your body and leave you smelling lovely!

DO ONE THING: Cook At Home

DO ONE THING | Cook At Home

Welcome back to my “DO ONE THING” series! We’re looking at small changes that we can make for great health impact. If you’d like to read the rest of the series, you can do that HERE.

So, when I say small changes, this one might be a bit of a stretch- but the impact is HUGE! Today’s change is to start COOKING AT HOME. And I don’t just mean throwing a frozen pizza in the oven, either- I mean taking control of what you are eating and cooking it yourself!

Processed and ready-made foods are full of things that are ruining your health- from preservatives to additives to artificial flavors, genetically-modified ingredients, high fructose corn syrup, bleached flours, the lost goes on and on. When we consume these foods, we are flooding our body with foreign substances that aren’t meant to be digested by our guts or absorbed by our intestines. These chemicals disrupt our hormones and make our bodies work harder to get the nutrients that they need, which makes us feel sluggish, bloated, and leads to even greater health complications.

When we cook at home, we have complete control over what is going into our bodies! Even if we choose not to always cook the healthiest meals, we will at least be knowledgeable of what we are consuming and can prepare ourselves for the fallout.

Benefits of cooking at home:

  • Little or no preservatives
  • Can be sure of avoiding allergens- dairy, wheat, nuts
  • Bigger servings of fruits and vegetables
  • Can avoid GMO ingredients
  • Meals free of chemicals and additives
  • Use whatever sweeteners or seasonings fit within your diet
  • Two words: portion. control.
  • No advertising to trick you into sodas, desserts, or cheesy bread 🙂
  • So much cheaper!

Of course, as with all things, moderation is key! I love eating out for special occasions, and many times I allow myself to enjoy foods I might not normally (read: unhealthy food) because it is a treat in our household. Knowing that my normal, everyday diet carries the above advantages allows me to enjoy luxury foods guilt free!

If this feels overwhelming to you, start small. Commit to one meal that you will make from scratch: breakfast is an easy way to start. Once you get the hang of having a whole-foods based breakfast, move on to another meal. Soon it will become second nature to cook wholesome meals for your family.

Do you make a habit of cooking at home? What advantages have you seen for your own health and finances?

Redeeming Easter Traditions (plus Resurrection Eggs project!)

Redeeming Easter Traditions | FREE Resurrection Eggs Printable! | Feed Me Mama

Editor’s Note: Today’s post is written by Kathleen Willet, a dear friend of mine. Kat and her husband, Jeremy, adopted their son, Evans, from Ghana this past year, and are in process to adopt their daughter from Ethiopia this spring! You can read more about their family and ministry right here. Kat and Jeremy are great examples of parenting with intentionality and they are constantly seeking to redeem the things of the world for the glory of Christ. I’ve asked Kat to begin contributing a monthly column on mindful, Kingdom-centered parenting, and this is her first post! Thanks, Kat!

This is our first Easter being home with our son Evans from Ghana. Last year, we were able to celebrate the resurrection of our Savior in Ghana by attempting to dye our brown eggs from the local market and attending our first church service as a family of three. There are quite a few things different with this Easter as we are here in the states! So many things are associated with the U.S. celebration of Easter:

  • Good Friday service
  • Easter Sunday service
  • Visiting with family
  • Dyeing Easter eggs
  • Easter egg hunts
  • New Easter outfit
  • Easter baskets
  • The Easter bunny

…I must say, I am very much overwhelmed and missing the simplicity and focused reality of Easter! Now, I am not saying that any of these ways of celebrating Easter is wrong, it’s just our family always tries to be extremely intentional with our decisions, and when Easter comes around, we view that as a time to reflect and remember the sacrifice and resurrection of our Lord.

Before kids, Jeremy (my husband) and I would celebrate Easter by attending a Good Friday service and an Easter Morning service, as well as making sure to visit both sides of the family. Having a child now is making us truly think about what we want our children to relate with Easter as they grow up. Our goal is for our children to grow up knowing the true meaning behind each holiday and celebrate each holiday as The Lord leads.

We don’t want our children feeling deprived, left out, or secluded from the world, so we chose to look at different Easter traditions and see how we can be more intentional with how we celebrate. Here’s a few things we are going to try:

Dyeing Eggs with Natural Dyes

We have 7 chickens in our backyard, so we are looking forward to dyeing their eggs! A few dyes we are going to try are red beets, frozen cherries, chili powder, tumeric and red cabbage. If this sounds exciting to you as well you can visit this site and get more detailed instructions. There are all natural dying kits available, but if you have the time and resources, why not experiment and let the kids truly see where these dyes are coming from? 🙂

An Easter Basket

Since we don’t encourage the consumption of sweets with Evans, we are going to do a fun alternative. I found a wooden vegetable crate with plush vegetables online and we are also going to fill the crate with fun things like balloons, a ball, a book and bubbles. SSHHH don’t tell Evans☺.

Resurrection Eggs

Redeeming Easter Traditions & Resurrection Egg Project | Feed Me Mama

This is one of the things I am most excited about trying! I had never heard of this project before, and when I found it I was so excited and eager to start this tradition with Evans and our children to come. I found many places that sell Resurrection Egg kits, but because I had the time and resources, I decided to create them myself. I saved lots of money, and its was fun running around the house trying to find string and tying toothpicks together to resemble a cross!

You’ll need:

  • 12 plastic eggs
  • Permanent marker
  • Optional- Stickers or washi tape, or other decorative things for the eggs (you can even decorate the eggs as a family)
  • Printed or handwritten scripture cards (use our printable at the bottom of the post!)
  • Symbols for each day

Day 1: Matthew 26:39 (Tiny plastic communion cup)
Day 2: Matthew 26:14-15 (3 Coins)
Day 3: Matthew 27:1-2 (Piece of knotted string)
Day 4: Matthew 27:24-26 (Piece of soap)
Day 5: Matthew 27:28-30 (Piece of red fabric)
Day 6: Matthew 27:31-32 (Small toothpick cross and tiny nail)
Day 7: Matthew 27:35 (Pair of dice)
Day 8: Matthew 27:50-51,54 (Small bag of crushed rock/soil)
Day 9: Matthew 27:57-60 (Square of white cloth/linen)
Day 10: Matthew 27:60,65-66 (Small stone)
Day 11: Matthew 28:2,5 (Clove and cinnamon stick)
Day 12: Matthew 28:6 (Empty)

Number the eggs from 1 to 12. In each egg, place the Scripture card and corresponding symbol. Each day (beginning 12 days before Easter) open an egg with your child and discuss the meaning of the Scripture and symbol. You can even hide the egg in the house and have your child search for it each day! On Easter morning, the egg they open should be empty, representing the empty tomb.

I am so excited to start this new tradition with Evans, making the death and resurrection of our Lord the main focus at Easter. This is a great way to foster intentional conversation within your family and build anticipation to Resurrection Sunday.

How have your celebrations changed as your family has grown? What traditions do you celebrate during the Easter season with your family?

resurrection egg printable