Wednesday, October 31, 2012

So, do you celebrate Halloween?

It's fall! And I love it! I think I've mentioned it before but I really do love fall! I especially love October! October is my birthday month and the month the Hubs and I got married. I love the weather, football, food... all of it!

So, what about Halloween? Well, I've read a few articles online about it from various perspectives, did my research (you know I like to research!) and had many conversations with the Hubs about it. And yes, I've prayed about it! There is a lot of confusion on how Halloween and it's origin truly started. It has roots in paganism, yet it also seems the church (as it's known for doing) attempted to counter it with it's own holiday (All Saint's Day). In the past those days were separated (one on October 31, one on November 1 or 2). Anyway, you can do your own research! It really is a bit fuzzy (or at least that's how I felt after reading about the history). My thoughts are that it's kind of mashed up into this American holiday. I know there are many out there who choose not to celebrate it at all, like they don't even mention it and pretend it doesn't exist. Then there are those who do celebrate it in some forms, as in allowing their children to dress up and go to a fall festival or two. (If you allow your children to participate in the traditions -dressing up, getting treats, even if they are from a church- whether they are on October 31 or not, you're still somewhat participating in the holiday.) Then there are those who allow their kids to dress up and actually go trick-or-treating on Halloween Day. So, what category do we fall in?

We fall in the third. And before I go any further, I fully respect the choices of other families. These types of things fall in the "liberty" areas. I appreciate their viewpoint and hope to receive the same from them. I'm just sharing our decision. So, yes, my children dress up and they go trick-or-treating. I'm not a fan of skeletons, ghosts, and the other more gory aspects. We avoid those aisles at the store and we avoid those types of houses as well! So here is how our night looks:

The boys dress up (Star Wars is the pick this year!) early in the evening. By 5pm we're ready to leave the house. We make three or four stops visiting the Hub's family first and then we head to my mom's. My mom's neighborhood is a very busy trick or treating neighborhood. Most years they get close to 200 trick or treators! My mom always makes a big pot of chili along with hot dogs. Once we get to her house, about 6pm, we let the boys take a trip down the street to a few houses that we are familiar with. Several of their church members live in their neighborhood and we usually stop by those houses and then head back. We eat dinner and the boys enjoy giving away candy to other kids who come to their door (we always hand out million dollar bills too). Some friends of ours always stop by with their boys and they get to play for a bit and we always get their picture together. Around 8:30 pm we head back to the house and that's it!  Luke was curious why some people don't celebrate Halloween and I just told them it was a personal choice. We do take the time to talk about the evil aspects in basic terms that he can understand. That's unfortunately something we have to deal with every single day of our lives. Evil is everywhere and every day. But we also don't focus too much on that at this point and at his age. I told him that if anyone asked him if we celebrate Halloween to answer, "We dress up to have fun and spend time with friends and family!" And that's the truth! And I believe we do it in such a way that glorifies God!

My only issue with Halloween actually is the candy! We try to limit candy in our home as much as possible, although it's nearly impossible! So, we keep it as treats only. On Halloween night my kids get a few pieces and maybe the next few days they get a piece or two, then it magically disappears. We don't go to many houses, so we don't have a lot anyway.

One thing to mention and for us as believers to remember, is that no matter what you do and what your convictions are harping on or having a pious attitude on 'liberty' areas of scripture do nothing to soften the hearts of unbelievers and it also doesn't create unity within the body of Christ. So we must be careful in how we present our convictions and where our heart is on the matter!

*Just a side note. We do talk about Reformation Day during school and as a family. Some may be wondering whether or not we incorporate that and of course we do. Reformation Day is our history. Halloween is just like a fun little party we have. They don't even compare!

Have a safe and fun Halloween or day! ;)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

In sickness and in health...

As a stay at home/homeschooling mom, I'm wishing today I had a sick day! :) No really, my boys are being great today and school only takes us at the most two hours to finish. But the thought of staying in bed all day does sound appealing! I've been fighting this cold since Saturday evening. My goal is to NOT go to the Dr. In the past my sinus infections have always turned really bad within 24 hours and I always ended up in the Dr's office. They have gotten better with dietary changes and also with some natural home remedies. I'm praying I can fight this one off! So, while I sit here stuffy (on my 8th wedding anniversary no less), I thought I'd share with you some of my favorite home remedies, all of which are completely pregnancy safe.

I love garlic. It's really my goal to eat a raw clove a day but when I was so sick with this little guy, that was the thing I wanted least! Now that I'm better, I'm back to it but I have increased my raw cloves to 2-3 a day for the cold. Below are some good links on the benefits of garlic (not just for colds!) and also ways to use them. It's best to take raw garlic with food as it can be rough on the stomach. I usually have it on a piece of buttered toast or in a salad.

Garlic's uses (and benefits)
Garlic for Colds And Flu and here also
Cream of Garlic Soup - haven't tried it yet but it looks yummy to me!

Elderberry Syrup
Elderberry syrup is great for warding off illnesses. It's especially good for warding off and treating the flu. I take a tablespoon daily during flu season but up it to 4 tablespoons (or more) when I have a cold. I get my dried elderberries from Bulk Herb Store and use this recipe to make my syrup. Super easy! Here is an excerpt from Bulk Herb Store on elderberries: "Dried Elderberries are tasty flu fighters. They contain compounds that inhibit the enzyme flu viruses from penetrating our cell membranes and also prevent the virus from invading respiratory tract cells. Taken early enough, as a tea or tincture, you may be able to head off an upcoming illness before it becomes a full-blown flu. They are especially good for bronchitis, colds, coughing, and influenza. Also contains substances that ease inflammation and pain and soothe the intestines, thus making them useful in all inflammatory bowel diseases."

Vitamin C
We all know Vitamin C plays a huge role in our immunity. It simply boosts our immune system function. The research I've read doesn't say vitamin c will help prevent colds and there also isn't much research on how it effects a cold. But I have read that it does help with the duration of a cold and that's good enough for me! The boys and I are currently taking a daily extra dose of C a day (me 500 mg and the boys 250 mg each). I have upped my dose to 1000mg but am probably going to up it to 1500mg since I'm feeling a little worse today. I have heard of people going MUCH higher than that! Just remember to slowly slack off so you don't have any ill effects! Vitamin C has also been known to help scar tissue (I just recently found that out) turn into healthy collagen and heal connective tissue... so bonus for me considering I'm praying for a VBA2C!. We are taking these vitamin C chewables. It's important with any supplement to use a good source. Typically what you can buy in the grocery store is not going to cut it because most is made in China and comes from GMO corn. :/ As with all of these supplements and treatments, know your source!

Here is a good article on treating colds naturally, especially mentioning elderberry and vitamin c. It also mentions echinacea which I haven't done much research on.

And while I'm at it, there are lots of amazing articles on how vitamin c is fantastic for cancer prevention and cancer treatment!

Probiotics are fantastic for good gut health. And gut health greatly (which is an understatement) effects overall health. Because of our mainstream diet our guts are out of whack! We need lots of good bacteria to help. I would love to do milk kefir or kombucha but at this point in my life I'm settling for a pill form probiotic. I buy mine from Beeyoutiful, a company I trust. From Livestrong:

"Probiotics are beneficial to health since friendly bacteria are essential to proper development of the immune system. They aid in the digestion and absorption of nutrients, as well as protect against microorganisms that could cause disease and upset the balance of the microorganisms in the body. Probiotics are useful in treating many health conditions such as diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, speeding treatment of certain intestinal infections, reducing recurrence of bladder cancer, as well as preventing and treating certain conditions such as vaginal yeast infections, urinary tract infections, eczema in children, as well as colds or flu."


Cod Liver Oil
CLO is great for your overall health it is full of vitamin D and A and Omega 3 fatty acids. Here is a great article on cod liver oil and it's history, benefits and other great info! We do not currently take fermented cod liver oil (which is the best form) but we do take Beeyoutiful's cod liver oil. Well, we meaning the boys and I. I swallow mine and the boys take theirs in a shot of orange juice since they can't swallow a pill yet. The orange juice cuts the oil. Luke just pops the pill in his mouth and then chases it with OJ. Eli has me mix it in his oj and then takes it out of a medicine dropper! The Beeyoutiful brand are relatively inexpensive and are screened for mercury and other impurities. Maybe one day we can take the more expensive stuff! Here is another great article on the benefits (and there are many, much more than just for colds!):

CLO: Number One Superfood by WAPF

Homemade Bone BrothChicken soup is good for the soul... and for the cold. It's an age old remedy but there is a lot of truth to the history! It's highly nutritional! It's also a great and tasty way to get extra hydration and vitamins in you when you're not up to eating much! Here is a great article on bone broths. Here is another great article from WAPF (Weston A. Price Foundation) but admittedly I don't follow all of their rules (like using vinegar), though I want to try! Today, I heated up some of my homemade chicken stock with some onions, garlic and ginger!

Stay hydrated!! Water helps your body rid itself of toxins. It's simple, staying hydrated will help your body heal best! Staying hydrated is especially needed when you have a fever, which causes your body to lose water quicker. Being well hydrated with a cold or the flu will also keep your secretions (lovely word!) thing and it will be easier for your body to clear them!

Saline Rinse
I love my SinuCleanse! I really should use it all the time because I am prone to sinus infections but I typically don't unless I feel one coming on. Here is a good article on how nasal rinsing helps clear colds and sinus infections. Saline rinse helps your nasal passages to stay moisturized which reduces inflammation. It also helps to thin mucus (another lovely word!) and keep the nasal cavity clear. Tips: ALWAYS use distilled water. Here's why. And make sure you use the right kind of saline mixture. You can make your own mix but I just buy the saline packages! It's a weird feeling when you start to use a saline rinse, but you get use to it!

I'm a weirdo and love all of this kind of stuff. It's amazing what God has so easily provided for us to help heal our bodies the most natural way. I've said it before and I'll say it again (and again), I'm not entirely against modern medicine. It's necessary in lots of ways but so often there are alternative ways to treat our bodies that do not harm it (like many Rx drugs do) in the long run. Not to mention being preventative by our diet. Oh, that is another post and a lesson I'm continuing to learn! Always praying for wisdom! :)

 "Be not wise in your own eyes;
  fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.
 It will be healing to your flesh
  and refreshment to your bones."
Proverbs 3:7-8

Friday, October 12, 2012

Favorite Breakfast Recipes!

(Kale and Onion Breakfast Casserole)
I'm in the process of getting rid of our morning cereal! Yikes! I have to admit, I LOVE cereal. I love it for breakfast and as a late night snack! My current favorite is Kashi Island Vanilla. I just really want us to get out of the habit of eating it regularly. In this, I'm hoping to save money and eat healthier!

I'm not a morning person. So anything difficult in the morning is not going to fly. Something I can mix pretty quickly and pop in the oven is a good place to start. Or... something I can make the night before is even better! So, I've been mentally making a list of some of our favorite breakfast recipes and I thought I'd share them with you!

Our Favorite Pancake- Yummy, whole wheat buttermilk pancakes! I've added blueberries to these for blueberry pancakes and also Enjoy Life chocolate chips for special breakfasts! I'll also sometimes add a good spoonful of cinnamon for a different taste. I use Coomb's Organic Grade B Maple Syrup to top them! Oh and I don't use 1/3 cup of sucanat, I only use about a tablespoon in the batter. Double the recipe to freeze for later!

Maple Pecan Muffins- my boys love these! We actually had them for breakfast this morning. I use pecan chips because my boys don't like anything with large chunks of nuts! I tried out a new whole wheat flour for the first time with these. It's not as soft as the King Arthur White Wheat but it was still good. I bought it because there was no King Arthur and this new one is non-GMO verified.

Cinnamon Bun Muffins (with coconut flour)- The first time I made these it was my first time using coconut flour. It's different (softer, more cake like), but not bad and a great way to use less wheat (which I think we could all benefit from). Coconut flour is expensive so, one bag (in the freezer) has been used a handful of times over the past several months. I'm really hoping to try out some new flours in the future.

Spiced Pear Muffins- My very own recipe! Super good! I make half with no nuts (or chopped very finely) for the boys. I have several muffin recipes on the blog but didn't want to post them all. You can click the "Recipe" tab at the top to see them!

Sour Cream Waffles- So good! With butter and sour cream.. I mean of course they would be! As the pancakes, these are good to make a double batch for the freezer! I also use 100% whole wheat flour!

Egg in a Hole- Luke doesn't like eggs, unlike Eli who loves scrambled eggs! But when I make this, Luke will eat them! I guess it's the presentation of it all! It's perfect made with homemade bread!

Cinnamon Toast or Cheese Toast- Um, no recipe for these. :) I make a mix of sucanat (1 cup) and cinnamon (4 TBS) and keep it stored in the cabinet for cinnamon toast, which we have maybe twice a month! :) Butter, sugar and cinnamon.. yum!

Crunchy Granola Bars - When I make these I just chop them up and use them as granola! I usually leave out the chocolate chips and add cranberries, sunflower seeds or raisins (or a combination)! This is going to be my replacement for cereal! I love it with milk, the boys love it by itself!

Kale and Onion Breakfast Casserole- So the boys won't touch this but it's still good! Maybe you're lucky and your kids will! It's super good and super easy! The hubs and I love it!

I'd like to try a good baked oatmeal recipe that the boys might actually eat! I love oatmeal but they won't hardly touch it!  I recently made one on that I found on Pinterest (can't find it now!) but they wouldn't eat it. I loved it though! There are SO many to choose from though! I'd also like to try this muffin tin egg recipe (with full fat cheese and maybe some nitrate free bacon since my boys don't eat sausage). Luke might eat eggs in the shape of a muffin!

What are some of your favorite non-cereal breakfast?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Just for some clarity...

I've been wanting to write this post for a while now just to clarify where I am in my 'real food/natural health' journey. I post a lot of information on facebook about food and health. Most of the food articles are about eating clean, real food and attempting to avoid GMO's, pesticides.. you know all the bad stuff. A lot of my health post deal with the dangers of vaccinations and alternative (more natural) treatments of illnesses (cancer being a big one). A lot of the reason I post these is for my own benefit. I like to read them and a lot of times I'll go back and re-read them or pin them on Pinterest so I can use them as a resource later. As far as vaccinating goes, I'm doing a lot of research on not vaccinating because that's the path I'm thinking about with baby Jude. I know you can't believe everything you read but when you start to dig and do your own research it's really amazing what you'll find out! I pray that God will direct me to the truth when I'm researching or learning about something. I know God is sovereign and some things we absolutely can't control. But there are so many things that we can and that is why I enjoy learning about so much of this stuff. I love my family so much and want to do the best I can for them. It's part of my job as a mother and a wife.

So, in saying all of that please know I'm not perfect. We don't eat perfectly. Just ask my family! We still eat fast food occasionally. My kids still get candy (thankfully, less and less). We don't eat all organic or all GMO free. We just can't get it here, nor can we afford it. For goodness sakes, you can look at me and know I have my fair share of "don't" foods. I wish I could give it all up but that's a battle I'm still fighting, I guess. Or maybe it's a battle I feel like I don't have to fight, as long as it's rare and a treat (rare is where my problem is!). I haven't figured that out yet either. It's a journey I'm on and it's a journey I so enjoy seeing others on. God's given us an amazing body and it's our job to take care of it as best as we can. For myself personally, I feel that if I'm given truthful, factual information about something I have a responsibility. What am I going to do with that information? My most recent thing is apples. I use to shrug them off. I can't afford organic (not to mention they are hard to find) apples but my kids love them. So, I knew they were bad as far as pesticides but when I started reading things about how they are one of the top cancer causing foods... well, I just couldn't do it anymore. I can't give them to my kids. So, no more apples for us unless they are organic and cheap! And well, that never happens. Don't worry, there are plenty of fruits and veggies on the "Clean 15" list. Pineapple being #3. We eat a lot of pineapple! As a matter of fact right now we have pineapple, mangoes and kiwi in our fridge all of which are on the clean 15 list. But please know, we're not perfect here either. Sometimes we just need some strawberries or grapes! I can't get those organic around here. Anyway, I'm going off in left field. "Land the plane," as the Hubs would say!

My point: I'm on a journey. I hope you are too! You and your family are worth it. But please don't think less of me if you see me and my family at Chick Fil A. Or if you see me get a slice of pie at the next church function. Let's learn from one another, give grace to one another and do it all for the glory of God!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Half Way!

Yesterday was the official half way mark of my pregnancy! 20 WEEKS! That is of course, if this little guy doesn't go over due! Both of the boys came on (Eli) or before (Luke was 3 days early) their due date. I'm hoping for the same this time!

I was feeling a little fear yesterday thinking about the upcoming birth. I have had my moments here and there so I sat down and read several birth stories for encouragement. Most of them I read from facebook page called "The Skeptical Mother" and were home births. Obviously, I won't be having a home birth (for many reasons) but mainly because it just wouldn't be safe considering my past two births. But these home births are so fascinating! Women are so amazing and it's really only because of God's design! It really did encourage me to read their stories. I can't guarantee how my attempt at an un-medicated, VBA2C is going to go, but I can trust in the One who's lead me in this direction. So, continue to pray for me, for my confidence in God, for my uterus to heal completely (He can do it!) so that I can birth this sweet baby boy.

Speaking of this sweet little boy.... we finally have a name! His name will be Jude. For obvious reasons I'm not going to share his full name. If you're important enough, you know it. We have picked biblical names for all of our boys. We always like to look at the meanings, the person behind the name and of course, whether or not we just like the way it sounds. In my mind I kept going back and forth between Jude and Asa. They are both great names! But the more I prayed and asked God what his name was the more I knew it was Jude. Jude means "praise or thanks"! We have been thanking God for this sweet little person as soon as we found out he was coming! I can't tell you how many people we had praying for us after our miscarriage and I praise God for hearing our prayers!

And lastly, a little update about how I'm feeling. The nausea is gone and has been gone for a month and a half! I am still pretty tired most days. I think that's just life with two active little boys. My iron is good and I'm eating well. My rest could be better. I have myself propped up on pillows most nights because I have lots of hip pain if I try to lay on either side. I have no real cravings... except a Wendy's frosty. And I have yet to have one. I've been wanting one for several weeks now haven't let myself have one. I get heartburn occasionally but mainly when I eat a big meal. I can feel this little guy more and more each day and have even seen him kick from the outside. No one else has seen it because well, you have to be super patient to see it! It won't be long though and it will be very visible from the outside! I'm exercising about 4 days a week, walking about a mile and a half per day. I haven't made it to two miles yet, maybe next week! I'm using my Walk Away the Pounds DVDs and just roll my eyes when the lady says, "Tighten that tummy! Tuck your belly button into your spine!" Um.. yeah, I'll do that! Haha!

So, things are going well and I am blessed. Really, the minor things that go on in life, like unexpected lab bills, broken washing machines and boxes still all over, really are just that.. minor. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!