Saturday, November 30, 2019

Immune Boosting Hacks During Flu Season

Benjamin Franklin said “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” 
Image result for an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure
It’s that time of year again, folks. The dreaded "flu season."

My goal, like all the rest of the mamas, is to keep myself and my kiddos as healthy as possible all the time. My biggest concern with flu specifically is that I have a newborn and a kiddo with asthma, so I really want to be as proactive as possible in preventing it. I've done quite a bit of reading and research and even took a masterclass with a holistic pediatrician on this topic, so I wanted to share some of my favorite homeopathic/natural remedies for boosting immune systems and keeping everyone well. (For the record, it’s not fool proof. Me and one of the boys had a cold just last week. But I do believe these practices help significantly + shortens the duration when they do come down with a little something.) I don’t think there are many things more heartbreaking than seeing your baby not feeling well, so I want to help with that some if I can.

**I also have an awesome FB group called “Health Mama/Healthy Kiddo Hacks” where all my mama & grandmother friends share their fave resources, ask questions, etc., and I’d love for you to join us there if you like. You can just click on that link & request to join.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, and I am not offering any medical advice/prescribing anything here. I am simply sharing what we choose to do for our boys to boost their immune systems. I do believe parents are the best advocates for their own children’s health, and I highly encourage parents to do their own research/consult with a doctor on each of these supplements to make the best possible decisions for their babies.

Here are some of our fave homeopathic and natural immune boosting secrets. (I included direct links to purchase.)
  • Don’t wear shoes in the house. SO simple! Have you ever thought about all of the yucky germs/viruses/bacteria you're tracking in on the bottoms of shoes? Think about what is on the floor of public restrooms, doctor's offices, in elevators, etc. that you're tracking in! YIKES!! I have a friend who is a childhood oncologist and said it's one of the first things he recommends to his patients family. Easy peasy- just take shoes off at the door. And NEVER set shoes on surfaces where you eat like kitchen tables or countertops. (I used to do this without thinking about how DISGUSTING it really is. And I also quit practicing the "5 second rule" since people do still wear shoes in our house. I'm trying!) I clean our floors with a Norwex mop.
  • Wash hands often with soap and warm water. I’m not a fan of antibacterial soap (antibacterial disinfectants disrupt our skin microbiome) or hand sanitizer (most are endocrine disrupters) unless it's Poofy Organics, Thieves, or another homemade or more natural kind. There was actually a study in the American Society for Microbology journal that said water is extremely effective in killing influenza A. Teach your kiddos to wash their hands OFTEN & how to do it the right way. (Tip: Teach kiddos to sing their ABCs or the “Happy Birthday” song while scrubbing in between fingers, around fingernails, then use the paper towel to open the door if in public. Stay away from the hand dryers. Google that one if you don't believe me.)
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  • Nasal spray every day...especially after being in a confined environment. Hopefully you can flush out viruses before they begin colonizing in your nose. We like Xlear brand because it  contains xylitol and grapefruit seed extract.
  • Probiotics. ALL of us take probiotics, Over 80% of your immune system is housed in your gut, so gut health is VERY important. Your gut is often referred to as your “second brain” because so many aspects of your health (even mental health, which is astounding) is tied back to gut health. P.S. Antibiotics destroy the gut. They kill ALL bacteria, both good + bad, so probiotics are especially important in maintaining gut health while on an antibiotic and/or rebuilding it after. And we personally try to use antibiotics as a LAST RESORT.  I would recommend amping up probiotics while on an antibiotic, but you really want to take them at different times of day so thy don't counteract one another. Jon and I are taking probiotics that come in our customized IDNutrition. We have switched the boys to this one because it tastes great, is SUPER high quality with 3 strands you REALLY want, & it's really affordable. You can do the subscribe and save for convenience (can cancel, change dates, etc. at any time) and they'll even give you a 10% discount. It'll be automatically applied and deducted from retail price if you choose a date for scheduled delivery.They also have a super fun Black Friday deal that is good through Dec 4th that includes the children's multi (same one we use) and super cute lunch box.
  • Vitamin D. I think vitamin D is one of the most underrated supplements there is, and people are totally missing the mark. (Most adults are deficient too.) The liquid drops/sprays are easiest with littles, and I start at around 6 months (even while breastfeeding). I like to get as much sunshine as possible when the weather is nice because our body stores it up and this helps us fight off infections during the winter months. (I don’t use much sunscreen for this reason unless we are going to be in direct sun for extended periods.) I prefer Mary Ruths because it also contains the co-factor K-2, which helps improve absorption. (I also love her olive oil and she is having a major Black Friday sale that I'm sure is still going on,)
  • Bone broth. If you can’t get them to drink it by itself, cook with it. I use it as a base in soups, to stir fry veggies, etc. Of course it's best if you can make your own & it's actually very easy. (Just google how to do it.) If you don't want to do that, my favorite brands are Bonafide and Thrive Market Organic bone broth. I also use a chocolate bone broth protein & the boys drink it warm like cocoa.
  • Oscillococcinum is an awesome herbal remedy (my personal preference over Tamiflu because of the psychiatric side effects- you can read about them directly from the insert) if someone DOES catch the flu. I’d stock up now because when flu season hits, you can’t get your hands on any. We have friends that used this + elderberry last year and the flu symptoms eased very quickly. This can also be taken as a preventative measure. 
Boiron Oscillococcinum for Flu-like Symptoms Pellets, 30 Count/0.04 Oz each
  • Colloidal silver spray. I first heard about colloidal silver at a huge holistic health conference we attended a couple years ago. They sold me on it. You can give it daily as maintenance, and amp it up when they’re starting to come down with something. You just follow the directions (age/weight and desired outcome determines the # of sprays). You can get drops too, AND they have some for adults as well. We personally just use it when they're coming down with something.Also, make sure you choose a quality brand like Sovereign Silver & don't overdo it.
Sovereign Silver® For Kids Bio-Active Silver Hydrosol™ for Immune Support* - 2oz – Fine Mist Spray - Ultimate Refinement of Colloidal Silver - Safe*, Pure and Effective* - Premium Silver Supplement
  • Vitamin C. I first learned about orthomolecular vitamin C while watching the Healthy Child Summit with Dr. Saul. High-dose vitamin C is POWERFUL for healing! (Check out the site to read more about the benefits, how it works, etc.) Some people give it to the point of loose stools. I don’t do this, but I do give a pretty good amount if they’re coming down with something.
  • Elderberry syrup. We give this daily during flu season and amp it up if someone isn't feeling well (Reminder: NO honey for any babies! Botulism is very REAL, and their digestive tracts aren’t formed well enough to be able to handle raw honey. They say once they’re over a year old it’s okay, but I’m very conservative and don’t do any honey under the age of 2. I also don’t use as much as the recipe calls for.) We buy our own organic elderberries and make our own (Wellness Mama’s recipe, or follow the recipe on the back), but you can find someone local who makes it or buy it pre-made from Mary Ruths too.
  • Limit sugar. Too much sugar at one time shuts the immune system down for 5 hours at a time. FIVE hours!! No wonder “flu season” shows up right after Halloween & Christmas and all the parties, treats, candy, and cookies. We are basically filling them with junk and shutting their immune systems down. (For the record, I’m not a total weirdo and my kids aren’t deprived. I haven’t totally found a solution for how to navigate this and I do let them have candy & treats. I’d definitely like for them to consume less sugar though.) We should shoot for LESS than 25 g a day. When we do go to some type of celebration, I typically encourage the kids to pick one thing they want as a treat. For example, they can have a piece or cake, OR a juice box...not both. (They are their mama's child and always go for the cake!) We also don't do any juice and really try to limit candy & processed treats. 

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  • Make sure they get plenty of sleep. Sleep is when their bodies recover, their brain grows, etc. Not getting enough sleep actually weakens the immune system & hinders their ability to fight off viruses. I know we can definitely work on getting ours in bed earlier more consistently.
**Check out the National Sleep Foundation's guide to how much sleep they need at different stages.
  • On Guard + Thieves (oils on the bottom of feet & diffuse). I use them interchangeably and like them both equally. I personally like to mix it up so they don't develop an "immunity" to it. I diffuse oils every single day & I love them as an alternative to toxic candles, scents, air fresheners, etc. I also uses Thieves hand sanitizer and sometimes I clean our house with Thieves (I just ordered some Thieves oil, but before that I made my own with a recipe I found online.) Make sure you do your research to determine what is safe for littles (not everything is) & proper dilution. Also, I personally do not ingest or use neat. I know some people do, so you’ll want to come to your own decision on that. I do not diffuse around the new baby either since her lungs are still forming and EOs are very potent. Again, I know some people do, but I'd rather not. You can find your fave oils person to get hooked up.
  • Hydrate. Let me say that again for ya..HYYYYDRATE! We live in a society that is chronically fatigued and dehydrated. Get them to drink plenty of water (at least 1/2 their body weight in ounces, and more if they're sick or sweating). I also love to give mine Hydrate because sometimes they get bored with just plain water. It has coconut water, important minerals like magnesium, electrolytes, and NO artificial colors or sweeteners. All 3 flavors taste awesome. Comes in stick packs for on the go or canisters for at home, and they are on sale right now for Black Friday

  • Nutrition. I try to help them eat real, whole foods as much as possible. Shew- this is NOT always easy! I try to offer lots of fruits + veggies. There really is power in eating the rainbow because i provides so many antioxidants and phtonutrients that strengthen our immune systems. Organic when you can. Avoid processed food, junk food, and fast food. I sneak in Superfoods when I can by making homemade smoothies, grain free muffins with Superfood blends, etc. I have some tips for getting kids to eat healthier here.
  • Juice Plus gummies. Speaking of nutrition, I like my boys to take the JP gummies because their diets aren't perfect, and this helps bridge the gap. My boys take these in addition to their daily multivitamin. I recommend continuing to give the IDLife multi too (highest quality I've found and best formulation of specific nutrients) because it contains important minerals and co-factors needed for absorption (things they aren't getting in their diet).
  • BetaKids. Beta Glucan is powerful & so beneficial! I also love that is has selenium and vitamin D. Just to save money I don't give this daily, but I do love it.
  • Cod Liver Oil. I only give it in the Fall/Winter, and other times of the year if they seem to be coming down with something. (Same with elderberry.) I've been using this brand - either the unflavored or the orange (I give it to them in a little medicine dispenser and they all take it like a champ), but am trying this brand next. 
Genexa Homeopathic Allergy for Children: The Only Certified Organic Kids Allergy & Decongestant Medicine. Physician Formulated, Natural, Non-GMO Verified & Non-Drowsy (60 Chewable Tablets)
  • V Clear. Highly recommend!! Much better than traditional cough meds, etc. in my opinion. Upper respiratory and lung health support.
  • Get moderate daily exercise. Family walks/hikes/bike rides, sports,etc. If it's too intense, it actually has the opposite effects. But staying moving, getting your body to sweat will be helpful in boosting the immune system.
  • Detox baths. You don't want to do this daily, but I like to do detox baths occasionally for the boys. You can use your own ingredients or just get this one.
  • I am not one who is quick to go to the doctor. I avoid antibiotics at ALL COST unless 100% absolutely necessary. If we’re not careful, we can develop a resistance to antibiotics which would make them less effective in the future if we ever had a serious infection and REALLY needed it. (We are starting to see the effects of this with the super bugs, and it is being addresses in the healthcare industry.) Plus, antibiotics destroy your gut by killing the good bacteria (it has know way to differentiate between the good & bad guys, so just kills them all and takes TWO YEARS for your gut microbiome to recover!). I have also found that it seems lots of antibiotic use leads to more sickly kiddos. When you don’t develop and immunity to something, you won’t be able to fight it off next time, and the weakened gut/immune system leads to contracting stronger bugs in the  future while your immune system is weakened from the previous antibiotic use. Are they absolutely necessary sometimes? Absolutely. But the reality is that most things will run their course if you allow them, and many most viruses cannot be distinguished whether they are bacterial or viral. Antibiotics are pretty useless against something viral that would need to run its course anyway, and there are better ways to manage symptoms. Of course you’ll want to use common sense/discernment here. I personally do NOT use fever reducers anymore. (With a fever, it's less about how high it is and more about how they're acting. We should be more concerned with a 99.9 acting puny and pitiful, not eating, etc. than a 103 kiddo acting totally fine.) Thankfully my boys haven’t had many fevers, but fevers are actually our bodies’ way of fighting something off. They are for our benefit. Our bodies heat up to kill whatever is trying to take us down. When we use a fever reducer, we are many times extending the life of the virus & interfering with the body’s natural ability to heal itself. Febrile seizures typically happen when fevers spike very rapidly, so definitely keep an eye out for that! 
  • Also, I definitely encourage you to do some research on the topic for yourself. I recommend reading THIS BOOK (absolutely NO offense to doctors- so grateful for their knowledge! I wish it had a different title, but it is FULL of valuable info nonetheless) for a more comprehensive overview & explanation about this topic. Maybe check out this article about Tylenol raising risks of asthma. If you’re in need of a more natural pain & fever support, I recommend this homeopathic option. 
Homeolab USA Kids Relief Pain & Fever

**I also love earth clinic to look up a collection of natural cures and remedies. Awesome resource to keep in your back pocket!

Sweet mama friends, I hope this is helpful for you. I know mommin’ ain’t easy, and we all want to do the very best by our children. Praying that if you’re reading this, the Lord blesses your children with a hedge of protection and thriving HEALTH in the upcoming year! Also praying He gives you wisdom as you navigate the BEST way to take care of your babies. I truly believe God has given you instincts to know how to best care for them, but I also know that when we know better, we DO better. Knowledge (applied) is power.

P.S. I’m always looking to learn! Anything else you use I need to know about??

Friday, November 29, 2019

Tips for Getting Healthy Prior to Conception

I am so passionate about being a mama, and that has led to me also being super about children's health. This may sound crazy, but I believe God has given me a heart for this and the faith to pray for more believers to have more babies. I have a list of babies I prayed specifically for in my prayer journal! (Some of them have come into homes via IVF and adoption, but they are being raised in godly homes and going to help advance the Kingdom,) God is faithful!

"Children are a heritage of the Lord..." - Psalm 127:3
"For this child I have prayed, and the Lord has granted me what I have asked of Him." - 1 Samuel 1:27

That being said, I also believe there are things we can do in the natural to support our bodies & to get back to how they were originally designed. I have spent LOTS of time researching and studying this topic, and my research has led me to understand that having healthy children actually begins YEARS before conception. In fact, the things you are doing now are helping shape the health of your GRANDCHILDREN in terms of gut microbiome, etc. It it is really important to provide optimal "soil" for fertilization, and this requires efforts from both mom AND dad as soon as possible before ever even starting to think about trying for a baby. (We definitely have undervalued the role that a father's health plays in fertility. We want a high sperm count & quality egg, so again, both parents want to invest in their health.) With that, (disclaimer!) please know I am not a doctor and don't pretend to play one on the internet. This is not meant to take the place of any advice from a healthcare provider. This is simply a compilation of tips based on my research and what I personally do to try to be as healthy as possible before trying to get pregnant.

Also, take this for what it's worth, but I personally do NOT take birth control, will not ever take it again, and will strongly discourage my daughter from ever taking it in any form. I regret taking it for the years that I did to try to control my acne (that I probably could have cleaned up with making changes to my diet anyway). If you think about it logically, we are essentially using something synthetic and telling the body NOT to ovulate. That means when you stop taking it, your body has to readjust and your brain has to communicate to the body to begin ovulating again. And while many people do begin ovulating again with no issues after going off of birth control (our bodies are very resilient), there is also a percentage of the population that struggles with getting their cycles to ever go back to normal after years on birth control. I personally believe it's a combination of multiple factors that affect our body's ability to regulate- we eat fake food filled with artificial everything, drink contaminated water, are surrounded by environmental toxins & slathering them on our bodies, are basically living in a chemical crapstorm, are infiltrated by EMF, & live an ultra stressful lifestyle. That's a recipe for all of the health, autoimmune, and fertility issues we are facing today. (If you have really bad cycles and feel like you need birth control for that reason, there may be another underlying health issue that needs to be addressed to resolve that. As always, it's best to try to address the root rather than simply using a band aid.)

Here we fave tips for getting HEALTHY!! 

Clean up your water. This is one of the very FIRST things I did and would recommend. Municipal water has some things in it you do NOT want to be consuming- from heavy metals, to fluoride, to birth control, Benadryl, & even Prozac. (Yep, most pharmaceuticals people are consuming and peeing out/ flushing are coming back into our water supply & even soil.) We have a whole house water filtration system (which for me is 100% worth the investment considering I soak/rinse my produce, wash dishes, bathe my kids, etc. in the water) & a Berkey for our drinking water that we’ve had for over 5 years.
Your water really, really MATTERS, especially when trying to conceive!! It is critical to stay well hydrated, but unfortunately if you’re not consuming clean water, it can be doing almost as much harm as it is good. There is a local town where the fish are not even reproducing at the same rate because of all of the birth control in the water supply. If it’s affecting fish at that level, what do you think it’s doing to us?
Tap Water Toxicity

**This also means being cautious with bottled water. I only choose this option when there is nothing else available, but typically I bring our own water from home with us everywhere we go. Looking into adding a travel Berkey, but for now I just fill up several stainless steel bottles and bring a Brita water pitcher when we go out of town. If you DO have to buy a bottle, I prefer Fiji or San Pellegrino.
Bottled Water Risks

Balance hormones. This can be done naturally with things like herbs, seed rotation, supplements, specific nutrition choices, etc. It may take some work, but can absolutely be done! I would look into talking to a naturopath for more support in this area because there is no one-size-fits-all protocol here. You'll want to work with someone who really knows what they're doing when it comes to herbs, etc. Here is a great place to start though.

Keep your electronic devices OFF of your body. Don't sit around with your cell phone/ipad/laptop on your lap. Encourage your hubby not to store his cell phone on his hip/in his pocket. EMF cannot be good for our reproductive organs...& we want healthy eggs/sperm.

Manage stress/get adequate sleep. Exercise is the biggest factor that helps me in BOTH of these departments. Prayer + making Bible study, quiet time, and praise and worship along with choosing gratitude help me manage my stress. Working out, shutting off all screens 2 hours before bed, or at LEAST wearing blue blocking glasses, all help with sleep. I also LOVE these Sleep strips because you don't become dependent on them, you can take them like traditional sleep aids, you don't feel groggy at all the next morning, and wake up very refreshed and not groggy the next morning. HIGHLY recommend! (P.S. you can save 10% by choosing the subscribe and save option, which is something you can cancel/defer/change at any time with no penalty. You're basically just picking a day for them to be delivered each month like I do with my toilet paper, diapers, paper towels, etc. on Amazon. And they reward YOU for choosing the convenience option by automatically giving you a 10% discount off the retail price. They are already very afforable, and this just makes them even cheaper! Here's a video about the science behind it & a product overview that tells you all about it.)

Also, I know I'm nerdy and enjoy learning and implementing #allthethings health related, but if it's more of a stressor for you, I'd probably take a step back and just focus on doing the best you can & taking baby steps. If it's an added stress, that's probably doing more harm than good. You know yourself better than anyone, so do what makes sense for your personality type and tendencies.

Take quality prenatal supplements. I just learned about this prior to my 4th pregnancy, but this go round I am opting out of folic acid and choosing methylfolate instead. If you're looking for a super high quality basic prenatal, I recommend this. If you want a more customized and personalized option, I would take this free HIPPA protected health assessment and choose the customized ID Nutrition.

Test for MTHFR gene mutation. Over 40% of the population actually has this gene mutation (myself included!) and has NO idea. That’s unfortunate because it’s actually one of the leading causes of miscarriage and infertility along with a host of other issues. It does not have to define your health though (I don’t have any symptoms from it at all other than some fatigue)...but it is important to know so you can combat it appropriately. For example, you may have trouble detoxing some things others can, such as folic acid & B vitamins, as well as heavy metals. The DNA kit I used to test for this is $100 off through December 4th (it normally retails for $249) and you'll get tons of other great health info too! Here are some links with more info about this gene mutation:

Go organic. I know some people think it’s a scam, but it's 100% NOT. I HIGHLY recommend putting those doubts behind you when you’re in a season of trying to conceive. I have more than one friend who went organic & saw immense benefits from a fertility standpoint.
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Avoid GMOs and processed foods. The more research I’ve done, the more I realize the importance of eating REAL, whole food! This is a time when you really want your body to be as HEALTHY as possible, and this includes both you AND your spouse. (So pretty much everything I have listed applies to him too.) You want to limit processed grains, gluten, most things in a box/package, fast food, etc. Instead, focus on consuming plenty of leafy greens & cruciferous veggies, fruits, nuts/seeds, quality protein, healthy fats, and nutrient dense carbs.You may also want to chill out on some of the "cooler foods" (smoothies, cucumbers, etc.) and consume some of the warmer foods (pumpkin, sweet potatoes, etc.). Side note: research suggests a vegan diet is not optimal when trying to conceive. I tend to follow more of the Weston Price suggestions during this time.

Consider a fast. Before we started trying to get pregnant, Jonathan and I both did a 21 day Daniel Fast (no bread, sugar, caffeine, meat, nothing processed etc.) A couple months later, I did a 3 day water fast. That resets SO many things in your system & helps your body flush toxins. (The water fast was more for spiritual reasons, but it just so happened to come at a time right before we started trying to conceive. I’d been doing some intermittent fasting and even a 24 hour fast, so this isn’t something I’d just jump into. You should consider doing this under the care of a physician, especially if you’ve never fasted or have any health issues.

Limit caffeine, alcohol, OTC & prescription meds. I don’t drink alcohol or take any OTC or prescription meds, so that’s no biggie for me. But I do make it a point to start cutting/limiting caffeine when I’m ready to start trying.

Maintain a healthy weight. I have several friends who are OB/GYN physicians, and they have seen women get to a healthier weight (even 10 lbs) and be able to get pregnant. This applies to women who are both underweight (do not have enough body fat) and overweight. It’s important for the husbands to be at a healthy weight too.

Clean up your personal care items (deodorant, shampoo/laundry detergent, hand soap, conditioner, lotion, perfume, skincare system, makeup, etc.) If you wouldn’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin. Your skin is your largest organ and absorbs what you put on it almost instantly. Lots of the toxic chemicals we put on our skin are hormone/endocrine disruptors. This industry isn’t well regulated, and the average woman applies over 26,000 chemicals per day (or something like that)! I like Poofy Organics and Beauty Counter.

Eliminate toxic household chemicals. Same reason as above. (Cleaning products, etc.) If you’re still burning regular candles or have plug ins/air fresheners, I would toss them immediately. Some of my favorite products that I actually trust and there isn't any greenwashing going on is Poofy Organics. I wrote a blog post with some of my favorite products here. I also share lots of my favorite product recommendations in my FB group I mentioned earlier.

Limit BPAs & choose safer cooking options. Switch from plastics to glass when it comes to water bottles, food storage containers, etc, and choose cast iron/stainless steel (rather than non-stick cookware). Super simple swap but makes a huge difference.
**Check out this article,

If you're already healthy, consider doing a detox 6 months or so (or even longer) prior to trying to conceive. You do not want to detox while pregnant or nursing. Things like Infrared Sauna are safer closer to trying to conceive and are extremely beneficial.

Consider Arvigo therapy and abdominal massage. I did this towards the end of pregnancy & LOVED it! The info suggests it would be really beneficial prior to trying to conceive too. You can search for a certified practicioner in your area.

If you start making the healthy swaps/changes early, the new healthy habits easily become a new way of life & you don't even have to think about it. It will benefit your entire family and help the whole family live healthier even after that sweet blessing comes into the world. Super simple!! Some things you should probably just toss/donate right away, but with many of these things you can just buy a cleaner version as you run out. Easy peasy! And remember, the SOONER you can start before trying to conceive, the BETTER!

Any other tips for improving overall health & fertility?

Black Friday Faves

I have come across some GREAT Black Friday deals this year!I've been passing them all along in my Healthy Mamas/Healthy Kiddos Hacks FB group.

But, wanted to share a few of my faves here too!

***Thrive Market - GREAT savings on lots of our favorite grocery/pantry staples (that are already way cheaper than the grocery store!)! I wrote a blog post all about Thrive Market here.

***Berkey- Drinking filtered water is one of the VERY first recommendations I have for someone looking to clean up their lifestyle. This is the BEST & most affordable option I've found. We've had a Berkey for at least 5 years or so and we love it! Click the picture below or here to order!

***IDLife- SO many awesome deals from IDLife today! The biggest savings is definitely the DNA kit...$100 off! That is huge! This is also what we use for our personal/customized vitamins, shakes, hydration, energy, & our kids probiotics and multi.

***MaryRuths- I like the olive oil & liquid vitamin D3 since it has K2!

***Poofy Organics- 15% off everything (you don't need a code!) & FREE shipping over $45. These are some of my fave personal care & home cleaning products.  Here is a blog post I wrote about it.

There are a few more fun things I've come across, so I'll be sure to get them posted ASAP...but this is a great starting place. What's the best Black Friday deal you've seen??

Black Friday Sale on CLEAN Personal Care & Cleaning Products

People ask me ALL the time about the products I use to clean with & about our personal care products. I’m in a season of life right now where I could make my own products for some things, but I’d just rather buy them. #momof4under6 
BUT, I want them to be truly CLEAN & non-toxic AND affordable. That’s so hard to find these days. (I can’t tell you the number of companies that have been bought out by big corporations who eventually change ingredients, yet still operate under the same name...or companies that advertise being free of toxins but are actually full of them. It’s called greenwashing & it stinks, but they’ve got people fooled. I know because I’ve totally fallen into the trap. Go look at Mrs. Meyers as just one example.) 
Poofy Organics is one company I’ve been using and recommending that I actually trust with clean ingredients, LOVE everything I’ve tried so far, & they’re affordable. I've been sharing their products in my IG stories for a while because I always share products I love there.

They are having their biggest sale of the year this weekend- 15% off (automatically applied, you don't need a code) starting today through Monday with free shipping over a certain amount!! 🙌🏻

Here are some of my tried-and-true recommendations & some things that would make great stocking stuffers!! 👇🏻👇🏻
**wool dryer ball spray (makes your laundry smell good even if you’ve switched to free & clear and ditched dryer sheets...& if you haven’t you want to ASAP! fiery fall, island getaway, & holiday cheer all 3 smell awesome!), laundry pre-soak spray (actually gets stains out!), almond biscotti lotion/soap, baby bath/shampoo and lotion, sleepy sleep bubble bath & lotion, sugar scrub & body butter, vapor rub, everything salve, all purpose soap, hand sanitizer, & the all purpose cleaner
A couple more of my faves that would make awesome gifts/stocking stuffers are the nail polish (I’ve posted before, but you really want a non-toxic nail polish & polish remover...especially for little girls & expecting mamas) and the bath bombs (immunity booster & breathe easy are the ones i use for the boys) or shower steamers. I’m super excited to try their new detox bath salt (has some awesome ingredients- again, one of those things it’s just easier to buy than make in this season of life).
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If you decide to try anything, you’ll have to let me know what you think! 💚 Shop HERE!

Saturday, November 23, 2019

What I Packed in my Hospital Bag

Just welcomed our 4th sweet Butler babe into the world, so I should pretty much be an expert now, right? Welllll, turns out I'm still not...but I can at least share my experiences with expecting mamas-to-be. I always think, "Oh I don't have to write this down, I'll remember." Mom tip: Don't fall for it. Ha! So, in case I can talk Jonathan into just one more ;) I'll have this to refer back to next time.
This is the blog post I wrote after having one of the boys with Tips for Packing for the Hospital. I couldn't find it when I was searching my blog, so at about 36 weeks I started making a list in the notes section on my phone of all the things I wanted to pack. My babies don't like to come till after their due date, but I recommend packing at at least around 37ish weeks just in case. (You can pack the snacks/toiletries last minute, but have the other stuff ready to go.) I included links for some of the items. :)

For baby:
  • clean coming home outfit
  • maybe 1-2 other outfits (gowns are the easiest)
  • socks
  • mittens
  • hat
  • Boppy
  • car seat (but you can leave it in the car till it's almost time to leave the hospital) with car seat cover & blanket
  • They have all the diapers, wipes, etc. so you don't need to bring any of that

For Mama:
  • nursing bra/tank
  • robe
  • comfy pants & clothes to wear home (either loose/elastic. i remember being surprised my belly wasn't all the way gone after i had my first! lol! i was like, uhhhh, nobody told me I'd still look pregnant? Hint: you'll still look pregnant. ;) It takes a few days (or longer) for your belly to go down.
  • abdominal binder (highly recommend wearing both night & day for around 6 weeks post-partum...for both c-section mamas AND vaginal deliveries)
  • socks, shoes, slippers & flip flops for the shower (the hospital gave me non-slip socks, so I just mostly wore those and threw them away when i was done. I'd recommend washing shoes and not wearing shoes in the house when you get home. Do you know the types things on hospital floors? You don't want to bring that home!
  • I had my own hospital gown but that's not a must- have. :) 
  • Toiletries you'd normally take when going out of town (face wash, lotion, chapstick, face wipes, toothbrush/toothpaste, floss, deodorant, HAIR TIE, hairbrush)
  • makeup (I mostly wear Beauty Counter & some Bare Minerals)
  • pre-natal vitamins/supplements 
  • snack bag (Clif bars, Lenny & Larry cookies sugar free gum & candy, Paleo Valley beef sticks, homemade healthy muffins, nuts/seed mix, apples/bananas/oranges, shakes/shaker cup if you want) - By the way...Clif bars are WAY cheaper on Thrive Market! I love them as a snack for when I'm nursing! I'm pretty sure you can try it FREE for a month & can save 25% off first order (+ free shipping on your first order over $25)
  • Hydrate (or your fave electrolyte drink, but get one without all the crap in it) & drink as soon as possible after delivery. (I sip on it during labor too.)
  • water pitcher and empty stainless steel water bottles to refill (I'm a water snob & really avoid tap water whenever I can. Just brought a little Brita pitcher & kept refilling it.)
  • goody bags for nurses/doctors

  • fully charged camera
  • gift bags for older siblings
  • phone chargers with long cord
  • fave playlist & optional blue tooth speaker. I cranked some praise/worship during every delivery. **Fave Pandora stations: Chain Breaker Radio, Hillsong Worship Radio, Hymns 4 Worship Radio, Elevation Worship Radio, Lauren Daigle Radio, 10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord) Radio
  • herbal tea (Pink Stork recovery, 3rd/4th trimester, Sleep) and post-natal herbs (if you're avoiding meds- the After Ease and Sleepy Nights from Wish Garden are a MUST) Side note: My friend Katie told me about both of those herbal remedies. When she was telling me about them, she said "you remember how AWFUL the after birth pains are while you're nursing, right? And how sometimes you can't fall asleep even though you're so tired?" And I nodded, but didn't actually remember. Wellllll, I TOTALLY know what she's talking about now! Not sure if I just didn't remember before or if it was worse this time, but I was so thankful to have them in my arsenal. I didn't take any meds at all (like not even one Motrin), so I'd definitely check with a doc if you are taking any medication,
  • pillows from home
  • a book for people to sign for the baby or your door sign (a family member can bring those in later)
  • cash/quarters for vending machines/food
  • wallet (you'll both need your ID, insurance card, etc.)
  • text/call list (everyone you want to contact when you're heading to the hospital and after baby is born)
  • They will provide nipple cream, nursing pads, & soap to wash the babies, but if you want to bring your own...I recommend Poofy Organics. This is the nipple cream & here is the baby soap. (Although I really wish I would have waited on the bath.) 
**Don't forget to take notes in your phone about the labor/delivery so you can write out your birth story as soon as possible (if you want to..I think the kiddos would like to read it someday, plus, it's always fun to go back and read later!). There are so many details you think you'll never forget...and... then you forget! Bahaha! Type it out in the notes section of your phone or bring a journal.

Important: Please note that many of the links in this guide are affiliate links. This means that if you purchase through these links, the price will be the same for you and I’ll receive a small commission that helps support my blog and my family. Many thanks for your support!

Friday, November 22, 2019

First Month Home with Emmie Kate

Well, this post started out as a "First Week Home" post and turned into my "First Month Hone" post because, well, #momlife.

And also because #momlife & the fact that I would randomly come type for a few minutes during the last 5 weeks, it is super scattered and pretty much all over the place.

We were SO THANKFUL to come HOME!!

I feel like I may be more of a homebirth kind of gal, but unfortunately that's off the table since I'm VBAC. Actually, it would be ideal for me to have the baby AT the hospital (I like being able to monitor baby and having access to emergency care if needed) and then come home immediately after for recovery. Too bad that's not an option, right?

We took EK to the pediatrician at 2 days old to check her numbers for jaundice. Jonathan had to install a closet that day at Lake Oconee so my mom came to my house that morning to come with me. She was late getting to my house and I had a little bit of a meltdown because we were late to the appointment. (I have been late to 75% of everything in my life, so clearly it's just that I was sleep deprived.) I apologized to her later. I definitely couldn't have done it without her! (Lesson NOT make early appointments when trying to get yourself and 4 kids, including a newborn, ready by yourself when you're 2 days post-partum and have only slept for 5 hours in the last 3 days. And yes, 10:30 am is "early.") Mom sat in the car with the boys and I took EK in. (I know I shouldn't have carried her carrier but didn't have my wrap with me to wear her.) They didn't end up doing a screening for the jaundice (which was our whole reason for coming in anyway), but told me they wanted us to come again 3 days later for another weight check. I was a little bit annoyed because she was only down to 7.4 (birth weight was 7.10) and my milk hadn't even come in yet. I prefer to stay out of the doctor's office as much as possible with all of the nasty exposure to germs & viruses, but of course I followed directions and scheduled it anyway. I did like the pediatrician though! Ours moved out of state last year, so I had to find a new one for the boys and it is an hour away. I couldn't handle driving that far as often as you have to go in the early days, so I decided to find one closer. I may transfer the boys...still undecided. I like them both.
My milk ended up coming in the Friday night after she was born. She was born Wednesday at 4:02 am, so a little under 48 hours. When I brought her back in for her checkup on Monday morning, she was back above birth weight.

Emmie Kate's "belly button cord" (as the boys called it) fell off on day 9. I gave her her first real bath in the sink in our bathroom at 10 days old. She seemed to like it. All of the boys were so concerned about her belly button and wanted to make sure it wasn't hurting her.

She's had very strong neck/head control (from day 1). She started turning her head side to side (while on her tummy) within the first few days.

Our first time at church was Sunday 11/3 (3 weeks old). She did great. Jonathan dropped us off at the door to go park, so I wore her and walked all the kids to their class. I left for the nursing room about halfway through the service. Other than her crying in the car on the way there, it was super smooth! (I think she just needed to burp. As soon as I got her out she let out a big burp. Jon complained the whole way there though & said he thought it was too early to be going to church.)

Speaking of car seat crying...she cried in car seat about 75% of time for the first 3.5 weeks. That's a part of why I didn't want to go anywhere. ;) Thankfully she stopped that at about a month old. Whoever was standing in agreement with us in prayer over that, we THANK YOU. (I want to laugh, but I'm actually serious. And if you've ever had a "car seat cryer" you feel me on all levels of this. Ha!)

She rolled over at almost 4 weeks! I put her down on her tummy and she rolled right over to her back, 3 times in a row.

I took 2 Colace in the hospital, & I know they helped because my first two bowel movements at home after having her were fine. I probably should have kept taking it though. And by probably, I mean definitely. (You forget about that part.) I had a few random gas pains that were pretty intense. It happened one time in front of Jon and he kept talking to me during it asking what was wrong...I had a flashback to labor/contractions. Lol! Later I told him if I look like I'm in a lot of pain, I know the temptation is strong and it's natural to want to ask what's wrong and if I'm okay, but to PLEASE try to resist the urge.

EK puked 3 different times in the first few weeks. She hasn't spit up at all. Those were all 3 bigger pukes and each time it was because I didn't burp her. I would just forget, keep feeding even she would be a little fussy, and sure enough a big vomit. Note to self: burp the baby. Be patient enough to not continue feeding until she burps. (Hasn't happened since I wrote that "note to self" a couple weeks to go, so sometimes those "notes to self" actually work.)

Sister likes to be held ALL the time. And I would LOVE if I could just lay around all day and hold her. If you're a first time mom, hear me...everything else can wait!! Just lay around all day and hold that baby! BUT, I'm not in that season so sometimes she has to fuss in her little bouncie chair for a few minutes while I finish doing dishes, cooking, or wiping someone else's booty.

We have had some BEAUTIFUL weather and we've been enjoying that. Finally had a cold front hit in the last week or so.

The boys...I am just in awe. I prayed that they would all have a sweet bond with the baby, but it has been UNREAL to watch how sweet they all three have been with her. I honestly didn't know what to expect because anytime anyone asked them if they were excited about a sister while I was pregnant, they all said no. But...It has been beyond my expectations and melts my heart! They all three dote over her, constantly want to talk to her and kiss her on the head. They talk so sweetly to her, pretend to read to her, sing to her, etc. Jase has been especially helpful & I am SO grateful. I know all of our transitions have been a lot on them, but God has been so faithful. They are such AMAZING boys and I am so, so proud of them and so thankful for the Lord showing up in this particular area.

If you want to love on a new mama, take her a meal! I am so, SO grateful for our friends/family who have brought meals!! I know people are probably intimidated because they think we eat healthy & don't know what to bring, but it's pretty much a free for all during this time. We've eaten pizza 3-4 times!

**Meals: HUGE shout out to my parents, Brian & Laura (special thanks for doing crafts with the boys!), Papa & Jimmy, Dwight & Sue, Megan, Stephanie & Girls, Chelsi (sent me 8 freezer meals, all homemade from scratch! Plus a huge box of meat that came at the PERFECT time), Candice (for all the food & goodies), & Heather! My friend Katie also sent us a gift card for Pete's Paleo and that was a brilliant ideaa!

**1 month update! EK just turned a month old! She had her 1 month checkup and smiled and cooed at the doctor the whole time! It was ADORABLE!! Everything looked perfect and we are thankful for our healthy girl. 9 lbs & 9.5 oz and has grown 1/4". She jumped up on the growth chart. She has slept great for me (so thankful!) and quit crying in the car seat- HALLELUJAH!! Rolling over, smiling, cooing, and a little more content in her bouncie seat. Boys are still super, super sweet with her and it's very obvious she recognizes them/their voice.

Post-partum ramblings: 

I took After Ease for one whole week because the after birth pains while nursing were BRUTAL. I couldn't remember how long this lasted and don't remember it being so bad with the boys. It was a full week and then went away almost overnight. I was so thankful when they stopped! I would say the pain was equivalent to that of a contraction.

LOVING the Pink Story 3rd/4th trimester tea! And their lactation cookie mix tastes SO good!

My lower back was KILLING me the first few days home. I thought that pain would go away instantly after having the baby, but it took some time. I went to the chiropractor twice for adjustments. The first time after birth I was pretty jacked up and had a good bit of inflammation. I am trying to get in at least weekly for the first few weeks post-partum because everything is still loose from that relaxin hormone, but begins tightening back up as that goes away. That happens within 4-6 weeks after birth, so ideally you want everything in proper alignment as it goes back.

It took until about day 13-14 for the nipple pain to go away. The first 2 weeks was pretty brutal. I would cringe every time she would latch and Jase would ask "is it labor?" They would count down when she was about to latch and say "3-2-1-BITE!" Hahha!! When we were taking out newborn pictures, Kade told our photographer "watch out, she's gonna bite your milkies!" My mom thought that was HYSTERICAL!

I feel pretty good. This has been a very different season for us than I anticipated or what I was planning in my head when we decided it was time to try for a 4th. Our kitchen remodel upstairs isn't done yet, so I have slept in the basement and mostly stay down here (since this is where the kitchen is). I've tried to limit stairs to 6x/day or less and really wish I wasn't going up & down them at all, but that's just not possible. I'm the one laying Beau down for naps, getting the boys ready for the day and for bed, doing their bedtime routine, etc. Physically though I feel good. I feel like this is the fastest my body has ever bounced back. (Not like bikini ready or anything...I just mean the way I feel.) Like night sweats...only lasted about a week and wasn't that bad. (I remember waking up being DRENCHED after the boys.

I have really wanted to stay home and not go anywhere, which has been very surprising to me. Normally I'm on the go a good bit getting the boys to music, going to church/Bible study, going to co-op, gym, grocery store, running errands, etc., but I.don' right now (even when I do have help). I've had to anyway each week for school and music, and took them on one field trip and to newborn pictures. (I hardly ever do family pics- only for Christmas cards because it's more stressful than anything, but I really wanted newborn pics.) Obviously I haven't been going to the gym, I've been ordering groceries online for pickup (which I still don't LOVE). I've been skipping Bible study because it's definitely the most overwhelming. It's almost a 40 minute drive each way, starts early, and all of my kiddos are on different floors of different buildings for their class. I'm just not up for that yet. I REALLY hate to miss it because I love, love, LOVE BSF, and I feel like the boys get as much out of it as I do. I may attempt it next week, but thankfully I'm still getting the lessons and you can listen to lectures online. SO...I'm only going the places I absolutely have to.
Jon has been working every day, and the days he is here he is doing things around the house to work on the remodel stuff, so I've been pretty much solo for the last 3 weeks. (I am thankful for my mom and sister for coming to help a few days & for meeting me at music each week! Shout out to my parents for coming to let me take a nap one day too.) I'm so thankful for his hard work, but it has been tough on both of us. I've prayed God would help me have a supernatural, speedy recovery & for my body to heal super quickly because I don't have any choice other than to bounce back. I remember feeling like the transition from from 1-2 and 2-3 kiddos was a breeze, but this has DEFINITELY been the toughest transition without Jon's help. He is always so hands on with the kiddos and helping around the house, so not having extra set of hands (when I need it more than ever) has stunk.

I think the hardest part is that she wants to be held all the time, and honestly I just want to hold her all the time, but I can't since there is so much that has to be done. Makes me sad- especially if this ends up being my last baby. (For the record, I don't think it is.) I know everyone likes to say "it can wait," and while that is a nice sentiment (and true for first time, maybe even second time mamas), the reality is we have to have clean clothes to wear, we have to eat food, & I live with a lotta dudes so I have to clean toilets ;). Jon has always been crazy helpful with all this type of stuff, but he doesn't have any extra time to be able to help right now. I'm trying to stay on top of everything with the house (laundry, dishes, cleaning, etc.) & homeschool/music because I feel way more overwhelmed when I get behind. There are some areas I've let fall behind..I am behind in our school work, my Bible study, and haven't done much with our business the last few weeks even though I've really needed to (& Jon wants me to).

I have been cooking all of our meals at so home though in between people bringing us meals & we've really enjoyed that. (I got lazy towards the end of my pregnancy and we were eating out waaaay too much. It's so nice to eat a home-cooked meal!)

I also feel MUCH more like myself now, minus this ridiculous cold. I have just been overdoing it & not getting enough sleep (my hormones, not her), so I am run down. I felt so bad one night I thought about going to the ER & worried I might have had the flu. I've been doing my breastfeeding safe natural remedies and thankfully feel MUCH better today. Praying EK doesn't get any of this cough and thanking the Lord she seems fine so far.

She is sleeping great (praise the Lord!), but unfortunately I am not. I'm having a really hard time going to sleep or falling back asleep if I nurse her in the middle of the night. I also cannot fall asleep if I try to take a nap (the 1-2 times I've tried....napping isn't really an option right now). I'm sure it's hormonal, but man it's annoying.

I am LOVING seeing the bond that Emmie Kate has with Jonathan!! SO SO sweet!!! I know it seems early, but the adore each other already and it's PRECIOUS!! He was the first person she smiled for, and she lights up every time he talks to her and holds her. He is so sweet with her too and I could just watch them together all day.

Thank you, Lord, for our sweet girl and the BLESSING she is!! God knew our hearts needed her, and I love the new dynamic she is bringing to our family. Even though this season has had it's challenges (I just want to be transparent and remember everything, so that's why I put it all out there), we are overwhelmingly GRATEFUL.God is so good, so faithful, and we are thankful for the precious gift of Emmie Kate! It's been a wild, fun, crazy, exhausting, overwhelming, sweet, blessed first month.