The 4 BEST Books for a Natural Childbirth

best-books

As a self professed birth nerd, I have done quite a bit of reading about pregnancy and birth- both clinical books about birth that are science based and anatomically driven, and hippy-dippy spiritual books about birth that will transport you to another world entirely- and everything in between. In preparing for a natural childbirth, I believe it is crucial for the mama (really, for both parents) to prepare their hearts and minds for what they are about to go through and the season they will enter into- and there’s no better way to do that than by reading!

That said, here’s some of my favorite books on natural childbirth. All of these are readily available on Amazon and most of them on Kindle, too!

SPIRITUAL MIDWIFERY

I have to admit it, but I didn’t actually read this one until very recently, when it was required for my doula work. You guys, this book is AWESOME! It’s Ina May’s first book, and it’s half amazing, empowering birth stories (and you can read more about why those are important in this post) and half practical knowledge on the mechanics and anatomy of childbirth, with some good old Ina May hippie birth advice stirred in. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and I felt like it was a great inspiration for me to prepare for my birth!

INA MAY GASKIN’S GUIDE TO CHILDBIRTH

Ina May’s second book, and perhaps a little more approachable to the non-birth nerd reader 😉 This book is similar to Spiritual Midwifery, but is toned down a bit in terms of the hippie stuff, while still being both educational and inspirational for those looking to have a natural birth. It’s often reported as the “if you only read one book, make it this one” of childbirth, and I would have to agree!

HUSBAND COACHED CHILDBIRTH

AKA the book about the Bradley Method. I took extensive Bradley Method classes when I was pregnant with my daughter, but not everyone has time for a 13 week class when they are pregnant! However, this book is super helpful and lays out both the philosophy behind husband-coached childbirthing, the relaxation methods that are employed during childbirth, and the diet and exercise that are so important to preparing your body for labor and birth. Especially if your partner wants to be really involved, and you want to have a solid plan for pain management that you can stick to, this is a great read.

BIRTHING FROM WITHIN

This book is a favorite among the natural birth community, and for good reason. So much of birth is about discovering your power as a woman and understanding that birth is a natural function of your body that you have been created to accomplish- and the ideas presented in this book help you do just that!

Did you have a favorite book you used to prepare for natural childbirth? What do you recommend?

Sweet Gifts for a 2-Year-Old Girl

girl-turning

Our little one turned two this last month (CRYING FACE!) and we had to get pretty creative when it came to getting her gifts. As a family, we really value thoughtful and intentional gift giving, as well as supporting mindful and responsible companies. Add to that our impending move to Rwanda, and we had a heap of challenges when it came to shopping!

I thought to myself… I really can’t be the only one dealing with being stumped when it comes to birthdays for a 2 year old…so, I want to share with you what we found!

PERSONALIZED and APPROPRIATE BOOKS

Because our daughter’s name is, well, rather unique (Hallelujah) (no really, that’s her name), we decided to get her a personalized “Lost My Name” book. I saw these advertised on Facebook for a bit and checked it out- boy, is it beautiful! It will teach her how to spell her own name and includes lots of animals for her to learn. A great bedtime story!

We also got her a few books that are appropriate for what she is learning right now: shapes, colors, counting. We love this one by Eric Carle and this Olaf counting book is super cute!

HER OWN VERSION OF YOUR THINGS

Okay, this isn’t the most mindful or green, but my little one LOVES putting on my jewelry, so I thought- why not let her have some of her own? She picked out a super cute Anna and Elsa set at Target, similar to this one. Adorbs galore.

I also gave her some of “her own” essential oil bottles to play with- just empty ones of mine, but still- it makes her feel included in many of my daily activities.

Halle also got a $1 makeup brush in her stocking, which she loves! She “plays pretties”. 🙂

FINGER PUPPETS

So much imagination in a 2 year old! This set of finger puppets is SO cute and entertaining. We have so much fun looking at them and naming all of the animals.

OK TO WAKE CLOCK

You guys. If I could recommend ONE THING to you, it’s THIS CLOCK. Buy it right now. IT’s incredible. She stays quiet in bed until it turns green, and then she is super happy! DO IT!

BUY WHAT THEY NEED…BUT ALSO WHAT THEY LIKE

For me, this means buying clothes with Minnie Mouse or Elsa on them, even though I would much rather dress her in solids or floral prints. She needs new socks? For her birthday, she can have Minnie socks. I’ll concede to the impractical on this point!

BABY DOLL SETS

My sweet and thoughtful mother-in-law hooked Halle up with some incredible swag for her baby for Christmas! Not only did she get a gorgeous bed/blankie/diaper bag set (with cloth diapers!) but also a sewn toddler-sized babywearing sling! I can’t handle the cuteness. Halle loves to wear her baby- and she’s always “shhhh sleeping” when she does!

TINY KITCHEN

This is the best! Sometimes, I am prepping food or cooking hot things and Halle just can’t safely help me at this age. So, we found a fun little kitchen set to put in our kitchen, so she can cook while I do, too! Much smaller and more portable than those behemoth full-on kitchen sets, this can be toted outside for water play, moved from room to room, and easily cleaned!

HER OWN PLAY TENT

This one is a splurge, but we have loved every minute of Halle’s own play tent. She loves to go in and read, or put her babies to bed- and BONUS, toys can easily be thrown in for a quick clean up when needed!

10 Ideas for Showing a Grieving Friend You Care (Plus 3 Things NOT To Do)

grieving-friend

 

Grief is a funny thing- we all feel it at some point or another, and yet when we are confronted with grief in the life of a friend or family member, it can be really hard to know how to react and support them the best.

After going through several devastating miscarriages in the past few years, I have seen some amazing showings of support from friends and family- and had some pretty terrible things said to me, too (probably with great intentions). With that, I want to offer a simple list of ideas to show a grieving friend that you care, no matter what the circumstance might be.

COOK THEM SOMETHING

This could be as elaborate as setting up some kind of meal train, or as simple as baking some cookies and leaving them by the door. Cooking, while good self care and distraction for some, can turn into a burdensome chore in a time of distress- and, lets be honest, eating for comfort is totally a thing. If you don’t cook, buy something already made, or think about sending a box from Blue Apron or another similar service. We had a Blue Apron box sent to us after we lost our son, and it was a huge blessing to just not have to think about what I was cooking.

MEMORIALIZE THE LOST LOVED ONE

This can look a lot of different ways, depending on what might speak to your friend- personalized jewelry, printing out photos, making a slide show of memories, making a pillow out of someone’s clothing. Two of my most precious possessions are a necklace with all of my babies’ birthstones (gifted to me by my best friends) and a pillow made from my grandfather’s favorite shirt after he passed away.

OFFER HELP

Babysitting, cleaning, groceries, gas, dog walking, school runs- anything that involves getting up off the couch or out of bed, offer to do it! Particularly if you’re really good at one of those things.

TEXT, CALL, OR EMAIL

Maybe this seems simple, but check up on your friend. Set a reminder on your phone every few days to see how they are doing- tell them you are thinking of them and praying for them and just generally here if they need it.

MAKE A CARE PACKAGE

This can be fun and easy- put together a little basket or box of nice things for your friend! Candy, a new CD or DVD, beer or wine, bath products, a new-to-them book, gift cards, a mug and some tea or coffee, a soft blanket- anything to pamper your friend a bit and make them feel loved and known.

OFFER A DISTRACTION

Sometimes we just need a girls night out, or a night in with a movie, or a pedicure, or to go bowling, or to go to the zoo. Offer up some of these ideas to your friend and try to get them social, if they’re up for it!

SEND FLOWERS OR A PLANT

I’ll never forget our friends sending us an orchid in the mail- they lived in Africa! They used ProPlants to send us a beautiful orchid and it meant the world. This is a great idea if you live far away.

REMEMBER ANNIVERSARIES

Birthdays, due dates, anniversaries of passing- remembering and acknowledging these things, especially in the future, will mean more than you know. Set a reminder in your phone or write it in your calendar- maybe even a few days ahead so you can send a card.

ASK THEM WHAT THEY NEED

Sometimes, there may be a need that you can’t possibly anticipate- maybe something work related or health related or whatnot- and you might only know it’s there if you ask. There might not be a specific need, but on the off chance there is, you could really bless your friend in a big way.

SHOW UP

Funerals, memorials, church services, what have you- go there. If you’re on the fence, do it. I have always lived by this rule- it’s better to show up and be supportive but maybe feel a little awkward than it is to miss out on the chance to support and love on a friend. Years later, I have had friends tell me how much it meant to them that I went out of my way to attend a memorial or funeral that I had initially doubted whether or not I should attend. Make the choice to be there.

AND, SOME THINGS NOT TO DO…

OFFER CLICHES

“God’s got a plan”, “time heals”, “they’re in a better place”, “you can try again”, “you can have another”- maybe all of those things are true, but they aren’t helpful. Say things like “I’m so sorry”, and “I’m here for you”.

JUSTIFY

One of the hardest, to be sure. “God needed another angel” or “there must have been something wrong with that one” or “it was their time”- again, these things just make it worse. Just listen to your friend and affirm them. Let them feel what they feel and be by their side.

HIDE

Finally, don’t duck and cover. Lean into the awkwardness and the pain and just be there- be present with your friend- even if you don’t totally know what to do. The worst thing you can do is disappear. Hopefully, this list has given you some ideas of what to do instead!

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!

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.