Thursday, March 31, 2011

Could Be the Last... or Not

This past Sunday as the kids were brushing their teeth before church, it dawned on me that this could be the last time we are getting ready for church with just three kids.  I thought of how easy it was.  Layla and Julius dressed themselves and Nate got Gunnar changed.  The next time we go to church we might be juggling the newness of a nursing infant.....or not.  I might still be pregnant this Sunday.  Only time will tell!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

38 Week Belly Pic

 Pic from about 2 weeks ago.

A few weeks back the midwife brought the pool with her, so a few days later Nate set it up just to see how long it took to inflate.  Holy moly, it was a lot bigger than I imagined!  After that, he partially deflated it and stuck it in the basement.  Well, last night he brought it back out, as I had a nice dose of false labor.  The pool got set up (no water, thank goodness), birth supplies were set out and then by 1 am my contractions stopped and we went to bed.  Uggh!  Needless to say I was very frustrated and both Nate and I are a little tired today.  This false labor thing is a bit tricky, always making me doubt if it's the real thing.  It's so hard to tell because the beginning of my real labor is the exact same as the false labor I experience.  I've had about 4 episodes of false labor this pregnancy, and each time the contractions are more intense.  So the prayer now is that I will be able to clearly distinguish the difference.  I heard one woman say that you will know if its real labor if you have a baby in your arms in the end.  How true is that!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

First Zoo Trip

My parents gave us a zoo membership this Christmas.  Good friends of ours also received the same gift, so even though it was a bit chilly, we bundled up our families and headed to the zoo a few weeks back.  It actually ended up being a beautiful day.  It was cold and sunny at first, but over time it warmed up into the 50's.  The animals were out and about since the weather was so crisp.  The kids loved seeing all the animals, but they really got a kick out of all the statues throughout the zoo.  The nice thing about the membership is there was no pressure to "see everything" and wear ourselves or the kids out.  We just left at a reasonable time knowing that we would be back soon.  By next fall, the zoo might seem like a second backyard to our family.  Thanks mom and dad for the gift!

Monday, March 28, 2011


So normally by this time women are praying to have their babies, but last week I found myself on two occasions praying not to go into labor.  The first was on Monday night.  I had been having lots of contractions and the pain in my back was getting more intense as the night came on.  As we were putting the kids to bed, Layla proceeded to puke in her room, the hallway and all over the bathroom.  I got a bit panicky that I potentially could be going into labor while a stomach virus was working it's way through our house.  I had bad visions of being in labor and puking from this bug.  My prayer was "no labor tonight, Lord!" and thankfully I didn't have to worry about a baby that night.

The second time came on Saturday evening.  Nate and I were in bed, but hadn't turned the lights out yet when we suddenly lost power.  He went downstairs to gather up some flashlights and he then started to look out the back window of our upstairs and in an alarmed voice called for me.  A few blocks away an entire factory was ablaze and the sky was filled with flames, smoke and embers.  With no power, a home birth doesn't really work, lol!  Thankfully there were no contractions that night and in about three hours our power came back on.

So, with those crazy obstacles past us, I am back to praying for labor because I am anxious to meet this little girl!  Come on, baby!  We are ready to meet you!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Budget Stretchers

My friend just asked me today what we spend on groceries every week and it lead to a little texting discussion on groceries and ways to lower your grocery expenses and get more for your money.  Now I am not going to bother getting into the nitty-gritty of numbers, because grocery budgets will vary from income to income, family to family.  I think what's important is to target some areas of our own grocery budgets and see if we can make improvements, whether it involves actually spending less money or getting more food/better food for the same amount of money.  As a homemaker, working on the grocery budget is one of the biggest ways I can impact our family's finances.  So for now, I will highlight a few areas that have really helped our grocery bill the most.  I would love for people to then give their own ways they best save money on their groceries or just stretch their food budget, because I can always use more and new ideas.  With food prices rising, I am sure we could all benefit from some tip-sharing in this area.

My Best Budget Stretchers and Savers

1. A pot of soup each week made from homemade broth - I know I have probably beat this one like a dead horse on my blog, but I am convinced that our weekly pot of soup gets us some of the most bang for our buck with our grocery budget.  We usually get 3 to 5 meals(a few dinners and a few lunches) from our large pot of soup each week and I dare say we ever spend more than $10 on ingredients for the soup.  I most recognize how crucial our weekly soup is to our grocery budget in the hottest days of summer when it is just not feasible to make or eat hot soup in our non-air conditioned home.  In the dog days of summer, our grocery bill seems to suffer from the lack of soup.  Some people might complain that they couldn't eat the same soup that many times in a week.  If that's the case, eat it only twice and freeze the rest for a few weeks later.  The kids do sometimes say, "we are having soup again" but this is just a reality for our family financially and the same soup won't kill them.  I try and remind myself in many cultures people eat the exact same food for all their meals their entire lives.  Its just us spoiled Americans that don't want to repeat meals more than once a month.  Another way I make soup more appealing to the family is to pair it with some homemade muffins, biscuits or bread, which we usually don't serve with our other meals. 

2. The incredible edible egg - Even with our tight food budget, I really aim to serve meat at least at every dinner, except for about once a week when we substitute eggs instead.  When money is really tight, we may have eggs for several dinners because you just can't beat the price for the amount of protein you get.  Some people eat eggs on most mornings, so this may not be a way that you want to stretch your food budget.  Or, you could consider a different breakfast option on a day that you want to serve eggs for dinner. 

3. Homemade yogurt - Store bought yogurt is convenient, but it is also expensive.  Our whole entire family LOVES yogurt, and in years past I used to spend a significant amount each grocery trip on yogurt.  But now every week I just make yogurt from a gallon of milk.  I can usually get the gallon for under $3 and I get a whole gallon of yogurt.  I used to spend $3 for just one container that my family polished off in one breakfast.  This has really helped save us money on breakfast.  I'll be the first to admit I was majorly intimidated by the idea of making yogurt, but after a few batches I realized it wasn't a big deal and now it is just part of my weekly kitchen routine.

4. Whole Roaster Chickens - While in no way, shape or form am I going to endorse the health benefits of such chickens, I am going to endorse their cheapness.  We buy a whole chicken every two weeks for around $4.  That chicken usually gets stretched into 3 meals.  We roast it for the first meal.  Nate cleans off all the left-over meat for the second meal.  Then I make a pot of broth from the carcass.  Nate and I were not used to handling a whole chicken at first, but over time it has become habit and it saves us a ton of money.

5. Dried Beans - Beans, beans the magical know the rest.  Nate and I rarely ate beans until a few years ago.  Then we started using canned beans, but I just couldn't ignore the cost difference of the bags of dried bean.  We now eat quite a variety of dried beans, including navy, black, kidney, pinto, lima beans, lentils, and black-eyed peas.  Dried beans require a bit of forethought, but you will start to notice a trend that you pay more for convenience.  Dried beans are much healthier for you because almost all canned foods are lined with BPA plastic coating and certain types of beans contain artificial preservatives to retain their color.  As far as the magical fruit thing, there are a few things you can do to make them more digestible.  First, soak your beans overnight.  This reduces the phytic acid in the beans and activates natural enzymes in the bean to make it more digestible.  Second, eat more beans.  The more beans are part of your diet, the more your body will be used to them.  Lastly, if you really struggle with beans but want to make them part of your diet, consider supplementing enzymes that will aid your body in the digestion process.  If you think you don't like beans, consider looking up recipes to prepare them differently.  I find that plenty of good fats (butter, olive oil, bacon grease) and seasonings can make any bean quite tasty.  If you can't stomach them plain, then sneak them into recipes like soup, tacos, salads, etc.

6. Become good friends with cheap produce and cheap cuts of meat - If you've never had the chance to do this, take a trip to the store some evening with a pen and a notepad.  Stroll through your produce and meat sections and take note of the most inexpensive options.  Chances are you will come across produce or meat that is unfamiliar to you or you may not know how to cook or prepare it.  Take some time to find a few tasty recipes to incorporate these ingredients into your weekly meals.  Your pocketbook will thank you!  Also, don't forget to check the discounted produce sections to see if anything is worth the price (don't always be fooled by things that are discounted, though).

7. Eliminate or Reduce Prepared and Processed Foods - this kind of overlaps the dried bean section, but your grocery budget will always be higher if these foods are a "staple" of your groceries.  We certainly buy some process/prepared foods, but for most of our regular meals we try and avoid them.  Instead of buying Bisquick like we used to, we just make pancakes and biscuits from scratch.  It really doesn't take much longer.  I used to buy muffin mixes, cookie mixes, rice mixes, frozen foods and all sorts of soup and meal starters.  But over time I figured out how to make those things from scratch and it has made a considerable difference in our food budget.

8. Plan on some affordable "splurges" - It's not always fun to stick to a food budget or cook every single things at home from scratch.  There are some nights that you may not feel like eating leftover soup or whatever is planned for that meal.  To help through these tough spots, its a good idea to build into your budget some fun things or splurges that may give you an emotional boost to stick to your budget the rest of the time.  For our family that means we get pizza once a week.  Sure, I could make a meal much cheaper, but I find that I look forward to our pizza night.  It gives me a break from cooking and the whole family really likes pizza.  There are also times that we just scrap our meal plans and get take-out.  And with our budget that is OK once and a while.  It only hurts us if we do it too much.  And after seeing the take-out bill for our family,  I'm usually pretty motivated to cook a few cheaper meals to make up for the cost difference! 

What are your budget stretcher and savers?  Please share your ideas so we can all benefit from them!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Gunnar's Birthday

I have a lot of pictures from his birthday, but I am having trouble loading them to my blog.  I will keep trying to add more if I can.  We enjoyed a day filled with pizza, presents, berries, ice cream and whipped cream.  My parents, aunt and cousins joined in on the fun.  Gunnar loved all his presents.  He got an animal train set, musical puzzle, lion flashlight, bowling pin set, bathing suit and sandals, rainbow peg game and a water/sand table.  Plus, he still has some lingering birthday money from out-of-town grandparents, so that means a trip to the Toy House for him!  I think he really enjoyed his day and is continuing to enjoy all his presents.  Thank you everyone!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sleeping Wherever

Gunnar fell asleep the other day when I was cooking.  After a bit he woke up crying and had red marks on his face from laying on the floor.  I got him the lamb chair and he went right back to sleep for another hour.  He must have been a tired boy to sleep through all the commotion of the day right on the dining room floor!

Friday, March 18, 2011

False Labor

After a full day and night of contractions, I am sore and tired.  It looks like I had my first dose of false labor for this pregnancy.  With Gunnar I was tortured with weeks and weeks of false labor.  With this baby I am relieved that I am almost 38 weeks and have only had this episode of false labor so far.  We will have to see what the weekend brings!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

3 Bucks

I saw these dust pan/broom combos at Target in the dollar section last week.  I got even more excited when I was able to find them in three different colors.  The kids were so excited about their impromptu gift.  They have been creatively playing with them ever since and have even cleaned up the dining room floor after a few meals.  Well worth $3!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Home Birth Videos

As I get closer to my due date, I have been watching more and more home birth videos and reading home birth stories.  I have done this with my past two pregnancies and it seemed to help prepare me for the big day.  I really aim to watch only "calm" births, as it is my goal to remain as calm as possible.  If a mom is getting too anxious or starts to yell and scream, I quit watching and find a new one, because I don't want to reinforce that in my mind.  Here are a few of my favorite home birth videos that I have come across lately.  Watch only if you are truly intrigued by birth, natural birth and home birth.  These videos aren't too graphic, but they are still real and show some of the graphic parts a baby being born.  I have actually showed these to my children in preparation for our home birth, but don't say I didn't warn you that you might find watching a real childbirth a bit out of your comfort zone!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

We love chocolate chip cookies around here.  They are easy to throw together and pretty much please almost anyone, but sometimes they can get a little bit boring.  When I am feeling this way I opt to make "Chocolate Chocolate Chip" cookies instead.  All you have to do is take your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe (mine is Toll House) and substitute 1/2 cup of cocoa powder for 1/2 cup of the flour.  That's it and you end up with a totally different cookie!  Give it a try some time!

Friday, March 11, 2011

My Baby is Two!

I can't believe my youngest is two!  Gunnar seems like such a big boy now, and I guess just in time as he will no longer be the baby in a few weeks.  In honor of his birthday I am re-posting his birth story and the birth stories of Layla and Julius.  I think maybe I should go back and read them, too, just to get prepared for another labor and delivery!

Gunnar's Birth Story

Julius' Birth Story

Layla's Birth Story


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Creative Toys

Julius finally managed to spend the rest of his birthday money.  He chose "Diesel" the train from the Thomas collection and this nifty geometric shapes set.  All three kids have loved not only copying the tiles provided, but creating their own designs and objects.  I think the best so far was a really cool giraffe, but of course I didn't get a picture of that.  Julius made a windmill all on his own too, but no picture, of course!  It's fun to see how creative then can be with a toy that doesn't limit their imaginations.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Fermented Foods Update

The good news is our fermented vegetable medley (cauliflower, daikon radish, carrot, jalapeno and garlic) finally reached a good tasty point in the fermenting process, so we decided to put it in jars and stick it in the fridge.  It will keep fermenting some, but the cold temperature will really slow down the process.  This medley is so tasty and refreshing, with just the right amount of spice.  In fact, all three kids have been able to eat it because it has a more lingering spiciness to it that the kids seem to tolerate pretty well.  We only jarred it up Sunday and already we have polished off one of the three jars!

The bad news is that our fermented pickles turned to mush.  So that makes our fermented foods track record 2 for 2.  We lost a batch of sauerkraut due to mold and now it seems our pickles over-fermented.  But we have enjoyed a batch of sauerkraut and are really, really enjoying our spicy vegetable medley.  And we pretty much have our yogurt making process down pat, which we enjoy about a gallon of that each week.  Its a learning process.  I am sure we will continue to make lots more mistakes, but as always in life, you often learn more from your failures than your victories!

I am happy to have my counters free from ferments for the time being.  I told Nate no more ferments until after the baby comes because I don't want to be laboring and smelling vegetables fermenting on the counter, lol!  Nate has found a recipe for a "teje", which is a beer/wine made from honey that he wants to make soon.  We will continue to share our experiments with you, both good and bad.  I hope you are enjoying our unusual journey as much as we are!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Cuddles with Daddy

Waking up from nap time is always a bit easier when you can cuddle with daddy for a bit.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Newborn Cloth

Some of our newborn cloth diapering stuff came in the mail yesterday.  I grabbed a baby doll to show Nate how they worked.  Soon all the kids had dolls and were trying there hand at prefold diapers!

Friday, March 4, 2011


So tonight during family Bible time, Julius picked his nose and out came a booger.  Nate told him that "wasn't smart" and to hold onto it until he was done reading the passage.  Towards the end of the passage of scripture Julius was messing with his nose again and I heard Nate ask "did you just put that back in your nose?"  Julius nodded and smiled, all proud of himself.  Nate and I started laughing so hard it took us a bit to regain our composure and move onto the rest of our family worship.  What a goof ball!  Well, he gave us all a good laugh!

Thursday, March 3, 2011


The kids wanted me to see their "junkyard" they created.  If only all junkyards looked this good!  I don't even know how they know what a junkyard is:)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011