Monday, May 13, 2013

Kids or No Kids?

I just came across a video posted by CBS News on whether couples should have children. They first featured the Duggar family and their 19 biological children, and then focused on two couples that have chosen to NOT have children. And, they interviewed a couple of authors who have written books on the "pros" of not having any children.

The video states that children cost too much. The question is asked, why pay over 1 million dollars (which I do not believe is at all accurate unless you buy every new product available) raising this child when in 15 years he will just turn around and state that he hates you? Well....who says parenting ends at age 15? Or even age 18? Yes, children are human and therefore they are born with a me-centered sin nature but they bring SO much more JOY! Also, it is a negative stereotype that many have bought in to in thinking that all teenagers hate their parents. I never once remember thinking that in all my life. When you raise your child in the Word of God and take the time to teach them to be courteous and mindful of others, instead of focusing only on themselves, I believe you will not encounter children who hate you.

They also hint at the fact that couples who have children are doing so for selfish reasons. Now, I will be the first to admit that I have a problem with taming the Selfish Beast, and I in NO way think that people who do not have kids are selfish....but I do question why aren't BOTH sides of the camp considered to be selfish...or even selfless? A woman who devotes her time to her career and education is selfless in her endeavors, while a woman who devotes her time to caring for her husband and the children God has entrusted to her is doing so for selfish reasons? In our twisted society this makes absolutely no sense.

More and more families are choosing not to have children. In fact, the video states that this will soon cause a major problem in our country. The average number of children per family used to be at 2.1. It has now dropped to 1.9 and is expected to drop lower. They say eventually the country will look like Florida: a lot of old people on Medicare and Social Security, and not enough young people to work/care for them.

And yet, people are concerned with overpopulation. People (non-Christians and Christians alike) find it odd when a couple chooses to have more than 1 or 2 children. And they are looked at as downright weird if they share that they are letting the Lord be sovereign over the size of their family.

Personally, this information saddened me. It is my desire to have a large family, and I pray every day that God would bless me with more children (and to be patient and wait on His perfect timing!). However, I also have PCOS and I know that my road to having a large family will be filled with a lot of tears, questions, and complete surrender to the Lord.

Yes, having children is difficult, especially in the early years. But, I wouldn't trade it for the world. I love each and every day I have with my son and I know that God is going to use him-and the rest of my children-in mighty ways!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Time Flies When You're Having Fun!

*I am writing this a couple days early (his birthday is April 25), because I know I won't have time to write it on his actual birthday....we'll be too busy celebrating!*

I can't believe it's already been one year. It's hard to imagine my loud, rambunctious, laughing pre-toddler was a tiny newborn at this time last year. I look back on this first year and wish I had a time machine so I could go back and relive those all again.

Like the day he was born, and I thought I had never seen a more perfect baby.

Or the day when he first rolled over (at 6 weeks!)

His first real smile...and he hasn't stopped smiling since!

His first tooth (actually, it was 2 at the same time at 4 months)

The first time he tried baby food (and the hilarious faces he would make!)

The first time he crawled, and seeing his excitement and curiosity expound.

The first time he stood up, and started "cruising"

The first time he said "Mama", and absolutely melted my heart! 

I can honestly say that this has been the best year of my life. I love being a Mama to Gunnar. He is such a happy, energetic, easy-going child, and parenting him has been a true joy. I can't wait to see what this next year has in store!

Happy First Birthday, Gunnar!

Love, Mama

Monday, March 18, 2013

We're Moving!

We're Moving!! In another week I will no longer have to carry groceries and a 23 (!) pound munchkin up 3 flights of stairs! In a week, I will finally have a REAL washer and dryer! And in a week, I will have a basement AND garage for even more storage space!

We are renting out the lower level of the duplex owned by our church. There are some cons to the place (which is to be expected with any sort of rental property) but definitely more pros, including:

1. Our landlord is our Pastor.
     Should a problem arise, we know that we can trust him to be fair and try to fix the problem in a timely manner.

2. Our upstairs "neighbors" are friends of ours and attend our church.
     This one is HUGE for me! As a young momma with no car the only interaction I get 6 days out of the week is (mostly) with my almost 11 month old son. I can't wait to be able to just walk upstairs any time I want to hang out or talk to someone! And, my friend can't wait to babysit Gunnar....I would not be surprised if she came down every day just to take him off my hands for a couple hours :)

3. Storage space!
     We have accumulated so much stuff over the 3 years we've been married! Honestly half of it we could probably just get rid of, but there's always that slight possibility you might need it, and therefore it gets shoved under the bed or in the back of a closet....well, no longer! We now will have an entire basement and garage for all of those "might need someday" materials.

4. Bigger Pantry
     The kitchen was one of the only cons (a lot smaller than the one we have now) with the exception of the large pantry. It's a lot deeper than the one we have now (plus we could always store canned goods in the basement!)

5. The chance to decorate!
     We have never painted before because up until this point we had always been in an apartment. We were told we could paint however we wanted, and it was so much fun picking out paint colors and dreaming about what the finished product would look like. My mom came up last weekend and the two of us cleaned the entire house (former tenant was a smoking bachelor with a big it took a lot of work!) and painted 3 of the 5 rooms! As of yesterday, the other 2 rooms were painted as well. We are planning on doing a couple of accent walls, but need a break from painting :) Maybe in a couple months....

And now I leave you with the "Before" pictures. In a couple weeks I will post the "After" pictures. Just so you know, here is what we have done so far....pulled up the carpet in the nursery, repainted every single room (all rooms are now a beige color called Vanilla Brandy, except for Gunnar's room. It is sky blue), and thoroughly cleaned every thing. Literally. Think cleaning blinds and wiping down baseboards. Now, we just have to move in the furniture next week!

 The family room...nice hardwood floors....not so nice decor/paint job! Stay tuned for the reveal of the "new" family room!
 Dining Room, with door leading to back porch. Again, stay tuned for the reveal of the new and improved Dining area!
 Pictures can not even begin to capture what an eyesore this was in the family room! So glad it's gone!
 View from the family room looking into the dining room. How many colors do you see? :)
 Master Bedroom...with the random junk the former tenant left for us to clean up!
 Another view of the master bedroom. Stay tuned for the new (painted!) version!
 Bathroom (with large sink and linen closet!) I am so excited to use the new black bear bathroom set I picked up in Gatlinburg a couple weeks ago!
 The Nursery...because Gunnar's room has the double closet I will be sharing with him. I don't think he'll mind :)
 Another view of the nursery. We have already torn up the carpet in this room, so we now have hardwood floors throughout the entire house. Also, both bedrooms have 2 windows.

 The Kitchen...again, stay tuned to see what it looks like now!

 The basement! Can you believe all this space?! The washer and dryer is also down here, although not pictured. This is a shared basement with our upstairs neighbors
 Bonus room in the basement. Joel is planning on turning this into a poker room
 We will have a 2 car garage! No more cleaning snow off the cars in the winter!
 Our back porch...can't wait to get some chairs out there and enjoy some warmer weather!
The New Place! We have a huge front yard and back yard! And, we are located right next door to the church! Because of that, Gunnar also has the entire church parking lot and the yard behind the church to play on! I am so glad, because he is one active little dude!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Am I Really Trusting God?

Over the past 18 months (and especially over the past 5 months) I have slowly forgotten why my husband and I committed to give God control of all areas of our lives, including family size. The past few days as I have begun my journey towards grief and restoration after a miscarriage He has reminded me of that once again.

18 months ago we didn't make a commitment of that magnitude to show off what good Christians we were.
We didn't do it just to annoy people. We didn't do it because we wanted to be made fun of, or have people tell us how "crazy" we were. We made that promise to God because we believe that He will always have our best interests in mind, and will never give us anything too big for us to handle.

Unfortunately, at the time I thought that meant that nothing bad would happen to us. At least nothing in terms of child birth and pregnancies. After all, we had given Him complete control and I assumed that gave us a kind of "free pass" from any hurt.

How wrong I was!

It's not that God wants to see me suffering, because I truly believe that He does Not. However, I think He needed to test me, to make sure that I would still be willing to trust Him even when life isn't going as planned. It's easy to trust God when everything is going the way you imagined it...but real trust comes when life isn't going the way you expected. From now on, I am choosing to Trust God, no matter what the circumstances might be.

This is a big, hard step to take, and I know I will fail at this many times before my life on this earth is over. But, with God, family and friends praying and interceding on my behalf I am confident that I may be able to overcome the lies of satan and continually put my whole trust in God. After all, He knows me better than anyone. He knows the desires of my heart better than I do, and He alone is the only one who already knows what triumphs and tragedies tomorrow will bring.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

A Mother's Grief Not Observed

Oh man, where to even begin? This past weekend has been a roller coaster ride of emotions as I am finally starting to deal with some heavy issues.

It really started 4 months ago, but I supressed my feelings until about a week ago. Last weekend I was sick. Bad. Headaches, vomiting, stomachaches, fatigue...then on Monday I started having some light spotting. I figured I was going to start my period and maybe that was why I had been feeling sick. Well, after an hour the spotting stopped altogether, and I didn't get my period. When I still didn't have it Tuesday, I thought for sure I was pregnant! I was still feeling tired and nauseous, and I remembered feeling that way with Gunnar as well. Fast forward to Saturday morning...and when I took the pregnancy test it was negative. From the moment I saw that negative test, to the moment I'm writing this, I have been a basket case of raw emotions.

The thing is, I have gotten a negative pregnancy test before, and I never freaked out like this. What made this time so different?

And, even though I would love to have more children, Gunnar is pretty active right now, and he's not even walking yet! Why can't I just be content with having just one child for the moment?

Why do I feel as though I NEED to get pregnant? As though my biological clock is ticking away and if I don't conceive in the next week I will never again carry a baby?

And, at the same time, why am I SCARED to conceive a baby?

I've spent the past two days crying over this. Wondering what is wrong with me, and why I would be having these kinds of emotions. I couldn't even pray about it, because I had no words. (Even now, I feel like my thoughts are just a jumbled mess, so excuse me if none of this is coherent). But, even when I had no words to describe how I was feeling...the Holy Spirit interceded for me and an answer came straight from God. In fact, it hit me hard.

I have not properly grieved the loss of the child I miscarried back in September.

In trying to be a "super Christian" I mistakenly believed the lie from Satan that if I grieved at all, it would be the same as not trusting in God's perfect timing. I never gave myself time to heal emotionally from it, because I mistakenly thought that would mean that I didn't trust that God had my best interest at heart. So, for months I have supressed those emotions, acted as if everything was going great, and ignoring the aching in my heart.

And now, I am a wreck. By not crying out to God and depending on Him to help me through this grief process the devil has gotten a foothold in my life. I lie awake in fear over getting pregnant and having another miscarriage. I lie awake in fear over NOT getting pregnant. I feel convinced that the miscarriage was my fault. I feel convinced that the reason I'm not pregnant right now is because I am a bad mother, and God does not want me to have any more children.

I know that all of those are lies from satan. Because I am NOT a bad mother. I WILL conceive a child again in the Lord's timing and carry it to term. I should NOT be afraid of getting pregnant (or not getting pregnant).

Now, I am starting the hard journey towards recovery and self-worth. And, to be honest, I don't even know where to begin. The past two days have been spent in tears, finally opening up to my loved ones and letting them pray for me. I don't know what I would do without my husband, mother, or best friend. I have felt the words of advice, wisdom, and prayers-both spoken and unspoken-so clearly.

I've also ordered a devotional for grieving mothers who have lost a child to miscarriage/stillborn. I am praying the Lord will use that to help me deal with my emotions.

I'm trying to write down my feelings, as a way to keep the emotions from bottling up inside me again.

And, at the request of my husband, we are going to ask our Pastor and his wife if they will meet with us for counseling. That is the hardest step for me, but I am praying that the words and advice of a Pastor will help me deal with some heavy heart issues.

I pray that with tie, and strength from God and family I will be able to properly deal with thse feelings, trust in God's plan once more, and kick the devil to the curb. Prayers are appreciated and welcomed, friends.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Gunnar's Birth Story

Well, it's taken 9 months, but I have finally written out Gunnar's birth story! I thought I would post it here for ya'll to read as well, because if you're like me you LOVE reading birth stories! :)
*Warning--it's long! But hey, I'm reliving the birth of my first child, what did you expect, the Cliff Note version?!

Gunnar's Birth Story: A Planned Home Birth with Hospital Transport

My due date, and my baby's birth date.
The OB gave me an estimated guess of the due date being some time between April 23-April 28. We went with April 23. He was born at 12:06 pm on April 25.

My baby's weight and length
7 pounds, 3 oz and 19 1/4 inches long

A synopsis of my birth
When I was around 16 weeks pregnant my husband and I started thinking about the kind of birth experience we wanted to have. We both started researching epidurals, c-section rates, and other medical interventions, and came to the conclusion that we wanted to have a natural child birth, believing that it is safest for both mother and baby. We were also both upset at the fact that there is a slim chance my OB would even be the one to deliver the baby. I could not understand why you would go through the process of finding the "right" dr, only to end up having a stranger deliver your baby. Add to these feelings the thoughts we both had about hospital interventions (although I do believe they are good at times!) and we soon found ourselves thinking of having a home birth!

A former colleague of mine had given birth at home, twice, so I contacted her for more information about her own experiences, and the name of her midwife. She told me how much she loved both of her births, how empowering it had been, and how easy recovery was. She also recommended her midwife to me, and when I was 20 weeks pregnant we had our first visit with her. My husband and I both clicked with Pam the first time we met her. She was open, friendly, and willing to sit with us for almost 3 hours to answer all of our home birthing questions. When we left her home office I told my husband that I wanted to give birth at home. He agreed 100%. We decided to continue seeing our OB, as well as having prenatal visits with the midwife, so that if we decided to change our minds and have a hospital birth the files would be up to date for the nurses and doctors there.

On April 24, I was discouraged that I had not yet started labor, and all I could think about was how much I wanted to meet my little boy! So, that morning I went over to my best friend's house and we went to the mall and walked around all morning talking, shopping, and eating. We thought all the walking would be a good way to induce labor naturally, but it ended up taking my mind off of it, and it was just a fun morning/afternoon with no worries :) But, it worked, because that evening around 8 pm I went in to labor!

I had my first "this is it" contraction around 8:00, and I told my husband I thought I was in labor and suggested we go get some sleep now, in case we were awake all night contracting. He went right to sleep, but of course I could not! I was too excited! I started timing every single contraction, and started practicing the breathing techniques from my Bradley method book, even though I really did not need to at that point. Then, around 11:30, I woke up my husband and told him that I was needing his help. The back pain I was experienceing was getting worse, and the contractions were getting closer together. We laid on the couch and watched episodes of Man vs. Wild while he rubbed my back and brought me food and drinks and tried to make me as comfortable as possible. After that, labor really started to progress, with the back pain being the worst. I didn't know what position to get in to to make it feel better, so I just continued my breathing exercises and tried to remember it would all be worth it :)

A little after 3:30 a.m. my husband left to go to a 24 hour convenience store to buy a heating pad, in hopes that it would help alleviate the back pain. At 4:00 a.m. I called my midwife and told her I had been in labor for 8 hours and was ready for her to come. She told me she would pack up her birth kit and be on her way. She lived 45 minutes from my house, so I knew there would be a wait. Pam arrived at 5:30, and I immediately asked her to check how far along I was. I was so relieved when she told me I was close to 6 centimeters! She also checked the heart beat and the position of the baby, and told me that he was posterior (face up), and that it explained why I was having the awful back pain. She gave me exercises to do to turn the baby, but at that point I was so tired, that I just could not do them. I remember thinking I didn't care if I had a posterior baby, I was not going to do the exercises!

After leaving me to labor in peace, she came back around 7:00 and asked to check the heart beat again. When she did, she told us that it sounded as if his heart rate was irregular. We listened to it on the doppler, and it would seem to speed up about every third beat. Pam told us that in all her years of home birthing she had never experienced it where a baby's heart beat had been perfect through the prenatal care, and then started beating irregularly during active labor. She left my husband and I alone to pray, and talk about what we wanted to do while she called her midwife associates to see if any of them had any similar stories. At 8:00 she came back to check the heart beat one more time. It was still beating in the same erratic pattern. She told us that she thought we should think about transporting to the hospital, but that ultimately it was our call. We decided to go.

To be honest, I was nervous about going to the hospital, but I knew that in our case a non-emergency transport was the best option for us. We packed a bag, and left for the hospital at 8:30. We arrived there a little after 9:00 a.m. on April 25. When I got there they checked me and found that I was 7 centimeters. Pam stayed with us the entire time, and advocated for me as my doula. I was asked several times if I wanted an epidural, and each time told them no. It was wonderful having Pam there, because she was able to really step in so that they would stop asking me if I wanted certain interventions.

A little after 11:30, I told the nurses "I have to push!" They were NOT happy about that, because the dr. wasn't there! The head nurse told me that no, I did not have to push because I wasn't fully dilated. I remember trying not to push, but at the same time I knew I had to. They got a dr. in there within minutes, and sure enough I was fully dilated and ready to push! It was wonderful having that experience of knowing exactly what my body was doing, and not having to rely on a machine or other people to tell me when to start pushing. I pushed for about 20 minutes, and at 12:06 pm Gunnar Joel was born! They immediately placed him on my chest for skin-to-skin contact, and I couldn't believe how perfect he looked! I let the nurses check him over almost right away, because we were concerned something was wrong with his heart. They said that everything was great, and he received a score of 9/10 on the apgar scale. The Dr (who supported my desire to birth naturally), said that she believes he probably did not like the contractions when I went in to active labor. We thanked God that nothing had been seriously wrong!

How I prepared for labor and birth
I read a lot of birth stories about home births and natural births through both books and articles online. My husband and I both read the Bradley Method books we bought, and, even though almost everyone said I was crazy for attempting a natural birth (most people did not know about the home birth), I really wanted to prove them wrong, and that initiated a drive in me to have an unmedicated birth.

What I liked about my birth experience
I LOVED laboring at home! I was free to do whatever I wanted. I could eat, sleep, drink, walk around, watch tv, take showers/baths...whatever I thought would help at the moment. It was so wonderful having just my husband there to take care of me.

What I did not like about my birth experience
The car ride! By that time I was close to 7 centimeters and had already been in labor for 12 hours. That was hands- down the WORST part of the entire labor :) 

What surprised me about contractions/labor
Because he was posterior, I was surprised that I really did not have any of the stomach cramping. I had some, but it was so mild in regards to the back labor. I was also surprised (and grateful!) that my labor did not stop or stall once we reached the hospital. I was afraid that it would, due to all the emotions I was feeling about having to transport.

What I would have done differently
I am definitely going to plan a home birth with my next child. And, looking back, there are a few things I would have done differently. I really believe that if I would have done them, we would have had the home birth we'd been praying for.

First, I would have hired a doula to come along side and offer education and support (both physically and emotionally) while I was in labor. My husband did a wonderful job for those 9 hours we were laboring alone, but there were times when I was scared, or had questions that he couldn't answer.

Secondly, I had in my mind that I did not want to be rude and call my midwife while she was sleeping...ridiculous! Looking back, I wish I would have called her sooner, just to have the assurance that she was there if I had any questions or concerns or needed any advice or encouragement. Next time, I will not try and wait until morning to call, but instead will call as soon as I think I need her.

Thirdly, I would have a birthing tub set up. I didn't do a lot of research on water births prior to that (talking about home birth seemed weird enough!) but after the birth I started doing research on it, and found that most women say it helped alleviate their contractions-especially those with posterior babies. I think a birthing tub would have helped me relax, and will definitely have one next time!

How it was different from what I imagined it would be
I think it's amazing how different both types of settings are. I really got to experience both a home birth and a hospital birth, and I have to say that I prefer the home birth! Pam was so gentle and talked in a calm, reassuring voice, while the nurses at the hospital tended to yell, or try to tell me what I could and could not do. I believe that they were just trying to help, but it was annoying at the same time. However, I was thankful for the dr on call (not my OB) who also advocated for me to have a natural birth. We really saw God's hand right there.

My recovery
The recovery was good, over all. I had second degree tearing that needed stitched up, but other than that I felt great. We were discharged the following morning, and on a scale of 1 to 10 I was at an 8. I only took pain medication twice while at the hospital, and did not take it once I got home. It was wonderful being so in tune with what was going on, and not feeling sleepy or drugged or out of it after the birth. Family, friends, and even the hospital staff couldn't believe how little the pain was.

I am also grateful that my first birth was posterior, because it showed me that if I can have a natural birth in one of the most difficult ways, then I can definitely do it with an anterior positioned baby! Unless a c-section is in order to save my life or the baby's, I will not be having an epidural.

I would recommend a natural birth to any one considering one. I love the fact that I trusted my body-and my God-to do exactly what God had created my body to do. I know it is not for everyone, and I respect that completely, but for me it was one of the best decisions I could have made. Yes, it hurt, but it was so worth it in the end and looking back, I love that I experienced birth the way God designed it!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

He's Up!

Well, Gunnar has officially mastered a new skill-standing! He is literally pulling up on every piece of furniture in the house. Chairs, couches, cribs, tubs, doesn't matter what it is, he will try to use it to stand up. It's so cute when he does stand up, because he gets this super excited look on his face; you can tell he's really proud of himself!

He has not started "couch surfing" yet, and to be honest I'm glad. I love watching him learn new skills, but at the same time I feel as though he is growing up too fast! And, it's exhausting enough keeping up with him crawling...I don't want to rush him in to walking, too!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Tips and Tricks to Raising a Family on One Income

I shared in an earlier post about saving money by making homemade baby food (you can read that article here). Today, I thought I would share some other ways we have found to cut back on costs and save money. I will be the first to tell you that I love to spend money! This post is in no way meant to come across as though I think I am better than everyone else. Trust me, I'm not! It initially took a lot of will power to stick to a strict budget, but now I can't imagine living any other way. Some of these ideas may work for your family as well, and that is my prayer and desire in writing this post.

Clothes: I buy the majority of Gunnar's clothes at a kids resale shop near my home. I absolutely love this store, because you just can't beat a t-shirt for $1, or a jacket for $3! And, because I'm a parent club member, I also receive 10% off all my purchases. Today, they were having "Bag Day". Buy a bag for $20 (limit 2 bags), and fill it up with as much merchandise as you could. I walked out with $50 worth of clothing for $20!  And that was at the thrift store price. If I would have bought all of that at retail price it would have been over $100 worth of baby clothes. I was able to finish up Gunnar's summer wardrobe, and get a good start to his wardrobe for next fall/winter.

Diapers: For the majority of the time we use cloth diapers with Gunnar. We have 7 cloth diapers that fit a baby size newborn-6 month, and 10 one-size diapers. For those 17 diapers we spent a little under $150. Now, that might seem like a big purchase, but it really wasn't. First of all, the diapers were purchased a few at a time, so the cost each time was more like $30 here, $50 there. And, we have saved SO much money on disposables!! Gunnar will wear a disposable at night, at the church nursery, and weekend trips to visit family out of town. We will buy 1 bag of generic disposable diapers for $14 (60 diapers inside), and that will last us a little over a month. If we were just using disposables, we would be paying $14 a week! So, you can see how the savings can really start to add up by using cloth diapers.
A few of Gunnar's one-size diapers. From smallest to largest setting. (Gunnar's size is in the middle).

Recently, I decided to start using cloth wipes as well. At first, I was a little grossed out at that, but the more I thought about it, the more sense it made. I simply took a hand towel, washed it, then cut it into 8 equal pieces. I made a batch of cloth wipes solution, and now I absolutely love using them (and love the savings!) I still buy the regular wipes, but it's nice not having to pick those up so often.


We live in an apartment and do not have a washer/dryer hook-up. That means we have to pay $1.50 to wash and $1.50 to use the dryer. When you have a baby that you are cloth diapering, that just isn't an option! So, we have even found ways to save money on that! We use a portable washing machine and a portable dryer. I believe that the washing machine cost $100 and the dryer cost $50. We have saved SO much money not having to use the washers and dryers in the apartment laundry room. I have also been making my own laundry detergent for almost 3 years now. In fact, I can't remember the last time I bought detergent at the store!
 The Spin Dryer. It rings out the excess water, then I hang the clothes on a drying rack for about an hour before folding and putting away.
The portable washing machine. Hooks up to the kitchen faucet, and works great! No trouble getting stains out!

These are just a few of the every day expenses we have been able to cut costs and save money on. How does your family save money?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Oh, How He's Grown!

 I always think it's funny when people tell me how "lucky" I am that Gunnar is a good sleeper. Yes, he does have a very easy temperament, but I also worked really hard at sleep training him as a newborn--and no, it was not easy! But, I am so thankful every day that I stuck with it in those first few weeks! I also hear a lot that my next baby will be the "wild" one since Gunnar is so easy. And, while the personality of the next one might (actually, most likely!) will be different from Gunnar, I will still use the same parenting and sleep-training techniques. :)

 We have been extremely blessed by God with such a laid-back, happy, sociable little guy! He is the easiest baby to take care of....he doesn't even cry when he has a cold! My husband and I decided to give our fertility over to God and let Him choose our family size before Gunnar was born, but I think that if we hadn't we would have changed our minds pretty quickly :) He's just so much fun, and we can't wait to add more fun to our family!

 Today I took Gunnar to his 9 month well-baby check up. As usual, everyone there commented on what a happy baby he is, and that they've never seen a baby smile that much :) He is still in the 50th percentile for weight and height (19 lbs 14 oz and 27 1/4 inches). He is still doing the "wounded army crawl", but I have seen him do a normal crawl, so I know he is capable of doing it...he just likes the other way better :) He is also starting to pull himself up on furniture. And, the Dr. told me today that he can start eating table foods! :) I am so excited about this! Obviously there are still some things that will be off limits for a while (we're not celebrating with filet mignon quite yet!), but she said that overall as long as it isn't too spicy and the bites are small enough he can have what we eat. My grocery budget is happy about that! For lunch today we both had cheese quesadillas (just had to make one...he had about 10 bites and I had the rest!), canned mixed vegetables, and shared a banana. Tonight we are having breaded chicken sandwiches and mashed potatoes for dinner. I think he is really going to enjoy that!

So yes, he has grown so much! It's hard to believe that 9 months ago today he was a tiny little newborn, and now he is self-feeding himself (food and bottle), crawling, pulling up on furniture, and eating table food. It's a very bittersweet moment. Hate to see him grow up so fast, but at the same time I love how independent he is becoming! 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Healthy Dessert Recipes

While trying to continue my healthy eating lifestyle I have discovered a few "healthly" desserts that I thought I would pass along here for ya'll to enjoy as well!

Baked Apples
1 apple of your choice

Using a knife, cut the top part of the apple off and discard. Then, placing the apple on a microwavable-safe plate, sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar and some cinnamon over the top of the apple. Microwave for about 2 minutes. Let cool, and enjoy!

Fruit Salad

Cut the fruit up in bite size pieces and mix together in a bowl. Add a handful of marshmallows for some added sweetness. Refrigerate 15-20 minutes, then enjoy! (You could use any fruit you have on hand! Strawberries, kiwi, cantaloupe, etc. would all taste amazing!)

I found a recipe on Pinterest for homemade ice cream...and the only ingredient is bananas! I plan on getting some tomorrow and trying this recipe over the weekend! If it's good, I"ll post it!

What "healthy" desserts do you like to make?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

What's in a Name?

I have a confession to make. I am addicted to Names.

I'm not sure why, but ever since I was a little girl I have always been fascinated with names, their origins, and meanings. And, as I pray and wait for the Lord to bless me with another little one I have found myself researching names like crazy. I have shared my list of favorite names with my husband. Talking about names is not something he enjoys doing until I'm in the second trimester, but he usually will humor me when I come to him, saying, "I thought of another baby name!" He tells me what names he absolutely cannot stand, and what names he could tolerate. The names he does not like are taken off the list.....unless I really like it, in which case I keep it on there and try again in a few months ;)

So, for today's post I thought I would also share with you my favorite Boy and Girl names! It will be interesting to look back at this post in a few years, and see if I have any children with these names!

Many times, when you hear the names of siblings there seems to be some sort of theme. Usually this theme is that the first letter is all the same (i.e.the Duggar Family). We did not want to limit ourselves to just picking names that started with "G", but still wanted there to be some sort of theme among the names.

My son's name is Gunnar Joel. Gunnar is a Scandinavian in origin and means "Battle-warrior". Joel is Hebrew in origin and means "Jehovah is God". So, we decided that all of our boys will have strong, masculine sounding first names, and Biblical middle names.

For any future daughters we may have we plan on giving them girly, feminine first names, and Virtue middle names.

Boy Names I Like (in Alphabetical Order):

Carson (American; Christian)
Holden (English, Hollow in the Valley)
Jensen (Scandinavian; Jehavah has been gracious)
Jonas (Hebrew; A dove)
Kirk (Scandinavian; From the church)
Phoenix (Greek; Red)
Rafe (English; Wolf counsel. Hebrew; God has healed)
Rowan (Scandinavian; Little red one)
Warden (American; Guard)

Boy Middle names I like (Biblical):

My husband and I both agree that our top 3 picks are: Rafe, Warden, and Holden. As of right now, if God blesses me with a boy his name will be Rafe Daniel, because the Lord healed me after the miscarriage.
* My husband actually recommended the name Rafe when I was pregnant with Gunnar. My first thought was "Eew! I hate that!" Fast-forward a year, and this time when he brought it up I thought "That's pretty cool!" :)

Girl Names I Like (Alphabetical Order):

Aurora (Latin; Goddess of the Dawn)
Cassia (German; Cinnamon)
Gabriella (Italian; God is my strength)
Jana (Scandinavian; God is gracious)
Laila (Scandinavian; Night, beauty)
Ruby (English; red gemstone)
Scarlett (English; red)
Sophie (English; Wisdom)
Summer (American; Season)

Girl Middle Names I Like (Virtue Names)


Right now our top 3 picks for girls names are: Scarlett, Sophie, and Laila. If we found out today we were expecting a girl her name would be Scarlett Felicity. We chose the middle name Felicity because it means "Happiness", and we know she would make our lives very happy!

So, there you have it! You now know my obsession, along with my favorite names! Are any of you obsessed with names like I am? What are some of your favorite names?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Saving Money When You Have a Baby--Home Made Baby Food

Having a baby is one of life's greatest blessings, but, let's be honest, it can also get expensive! With everything baby needs (or you think he needs!) it's very easy to spend your hard-earned money on that one little person in your house :) However, I believe that there are ways to SAVE money when you have a baby in your house! And, one way is to make your own Homemade Baby Food

Making homemade baby food is easy, and doesn't take much time! In fact, in the amount of time it would take you to get your baby in his carseat (along with the diaper bag, toys, and any other items you need), drive to the store, find what you need, check-out, drive home, and carry everything inside, you could have already made a month's worth of baby food! And, since the majority of it is probably items you keep on hand anyway (i.e. Apples, bananas, carrots) the savings are HUGE!

 I usually make Apples, Pears, Bananas, Carrots, Squash, Sweet Potatoes, and Green Beans for Gunnar. Recently he has started eating meat, so yesterday I made a week's worth of chicken as well. I will post some of the recipes here. (Feel free to add seasonings if you like! You know what you're baby likes best!)

Apples (makes about 2 weeks worth)
6 or 7 Gala or Red delicious apples

Simply peel and quarter the apples and cut into large chunks
Place the apples in a pot of boiling water, and turn the heat down to Med-Low heat
Cover and let cook for approx. 30 minutes
Pour the apples (and water) into the blender. Blend until it's at a desired consistency for your Little One.

To Freeze:
Pour the apple mix into clean ice cube trays, then cover with saran wrap and freeze overnight.

To Thaw:
Once the apples are frozen, simply remove from the ice cube trays and place in gallon size freezer bags. Then, when you're baby wants apples, simply grab a couple "cubes" and microwave for approx. 45-50 seconds. Stir well and taste to make sure there are no hot spots. (Each cube is 1 oz).

*You can also make homemade applesauce. After the apples are done cooking, simply drain the water from the pot and then mash the apples with a spoon until it has the consistency of applesauce. Store in the refrigerator in a container.

Bananas (3-5days worth)
3 Bananas
Water (optional)

Bananas are the EASIEST baby food to make, because you really don't even have to do anything to them! Because bananas are so soft they are the perfect food for babies to simply gum. Take a banana, cut it in half, and then using a spoon slice tiny pieces for your baby. If this is the first time you're baby has had "solids" like this, stay close and make sure to give them tiny bites!

Another option is to freeze them like we did the Apples. Place the bananas in the blender, add water (or breastmilk or formula) and blend to desired consistency. Pour into the ice cube trays, cover with Saran Wrap, and freeze overnight.

Carrots (2 weeks worth)
5 or 6 Carrots

Peel and dice the carrots
Boil in a pot of water for 10-15 minutes
Blend and then freeze
Mash carrots with a spoon until thick and creamy and refrigerate.

Squash (3 weeks worth)
1 Butternut Squash

Peel the squash and cut into large chunks.
Place the Squash in a pot of boiling water, and cook on low for 45 minutes
Place squash and water in the blender and blend until desired consistency
Pour into ice cube trays, cover with saran wrap, and freeze
Thaw 1 or 2 cubes at a time in a microwave safe bowl for 50 seconds

Chicken (2 week's worth)
 4 chicken breasts

Cook the chicken in a pot of boiling water until the chicken is completely cooked (no pink spots) Approx. 1 hour

Let cool.

When chicken has cooled, shred it into bite size pieces, then place it in the blender
Add 1/4 cup water (or the chicken broth)*
Blend until desired consistency
Follow previous instructions on Freezing.

*Using the chicken broth ensure that your baby gets more nutrients from the chicken, but it will also give it an even stronger chicken taste. I recommend using water at first until your baby is a little older and use to the taste of meat.

And, there you have it!! In about an hour you were able to make enough fruit, vegetables, and meat to feed your baby for a couple weeks! Doing it this way also saved you money AND time! 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Sales, Deals, and Clearance...Oh My!

This weekend my mom came up to visit, which is always a lot of fun! We were able to show her the duplex we are considering moving in to, (I'll probably blog more about that at a later date) and then later she, Gunnar, and I headed for the mall for some retail therapy! With my Christmas money burning a hole in my pocket it didn't take long for me to find some amazing deals!

I decided beforehand that I would only look at what was on sale. I also decided to find clothes that would be modest and honoring to God. That can be difficult to do at the mall, but today I didn't seem to have any problem keeping both of those promises! And, I am so glad I was able to do that because for a little under $120 spent I came away with:
  • 6 new pairs of underwear
  • 2 new pairs of dress pants (gray and black)
  • 2 sweaters (peach and gray)
  • 2 tank tops (gray and white)
  • 1 "dressy" knit top
  • 1 new pair of black dress shoes
  • 2 new shirts for Gunnar (what can I say! I'm a Mom and just can't resist spending my money on my Lil Man!) 
So, as you can see I had a VERY productive shopping day! The majority of the clothes came from New York and Company. A store that I love because of the modest selection of clothing I am always able to find there, yet do not shop at very often because of the high prices. Well, they were having a HUGE after-Christmas Sale, and I am so glad I went in that store first! My two sweaters each cost $10, the black dress pants cost $10, and the gray pants were $20. With deals that good I may be back again very soon :)

I got the new dress shoes at J.C. Penney's for.....$18! Talk about a steal! My gray tank top also came from J.C. Penney's and cost a whopping $4. Yes, you read that correctly! Ya gotta love the Clearance rack ;) 

I think what I love most about the tops that I bought, is that all tops can be worn with jeans, black dress pants, or gray dress pants! I love tops that are versatile and able to either be "dressed-up" if you're going some place nice, or "toned-down" if you're going someplace a little more casual. Also, the two tank tops I got can both be worn with all three tops. So, in all I think we're looking at approximately 15 different outfits than can be put together from what I bought today :) 

All in all, I'd say it was a very good shopping experience! And, best of all....I still have Christmas money left over! Hmm....what to spend it on? Whatever I decide, I'm sure I'll have a blast spending the rest of it :)

 This entire outfit only cost me $34!
 A $14 outfit! Can't beat that!
Unfortunately in this picture you can't see the white tank top I have on underneath.

I'll have to post a picture of Gunnar in his new shirts tomorrow :)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Out with the Old

Some days I look around at my 2-bedroom apartment and can't believe how much we possess. (A true testament to how much God will bless you when you give your finances over to Him and purpose to live a frugal, no-debt lifestyle!) Even more so, I can't believe how much of it is simply clutter! Today, I decided to do something about it!

I chose two areas that I wanted to focus on today. I chose the bookcase and my closet. First, I went through the bookcase and determined what books I needed to keep, and which ones I could do without. I decided that if I had not read the book in the last year, it was time to let it go! I ended up with 11 books to get rid of!

Then, I went through my closet and did the same thing. I looked at each article of clothing hanging in the closet, and decided that whatever either did not fit, or if I had not worn it in the past 6 months, it was time clear it out. I seemed to hit the mother-load! 10 sweaters, 4 summer dresses, 3 skirts, and 2 bridesmaid dresses!

My first thought was to just put everything in large garbage bags and take it to the dumpster located in the apartment complex parking lot. However, I did not feel like going out in the cold :) Then, I thought "One man's trash is another man's treasure!" And so, I decided to post my findings online. I posted the books to Ebay, and the clothing to Craigslist. Now, I just have to wait for someone to decide that they can't live without that book or piece of clothing! It was quick, easy, and if I sell everything at the prices set, I would literally end up with hundreds of dollars in my pocket. Not bad for an hour's work while Gunnar plays on the floor next to me!

I am going to keep these items up for sale for one month. Anything that does not sell by then will be sent to the Goodwill Store in my area.

Up next....the kitchen and hall closet. Oh yeah, I'm excited!!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Final Weigh-In!

Well, the 10-day juice fast I mentioned last week (you can read about that here), turned into a 7-day fast. And, for the FIRST time in my life it wasn't because I gave up and quit early!! No, instead we had to end our juice fast early simply because we no longer had money left in our groceries budget to buy more fruits and vegetables to get through the last three days. Eating nothing but fruits and vegetables can get to be expensive! Still, I'm proud of myself for sticking with this lifestyle change for so long. I think the last time I tried to "diet" I lasted for a grand total of.....4 hours. No Joke. I have never been one to over-eat, but I do enjoy snacking throughout the day, and have an insatiable sweet tooth that gets me in trouble. So, you can just imagine how proud I am of myself for eating nothing but fruits and vegetables for 7 days in a row! And.....the weight loss made me feel pretty good too! I ended up losing 7 pounds in 7 days! Now I just need to continue eating healthy, limiting the junk food, and hopefully I can continue to lose the weight! And, I am now 16 pounds from my goal weight, which feels awesome! Here's hoping that this lifestyle change will result in a healthier Stacie in 2013!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Happy Shopping!

With a new year upon us I am sure many of you are doing exactly what I am right now: Going through your closets and tossing/donating clothes you no longer wear, and planning a shopping trip for some new pieces to add to your wardrobe. As a Christian wife and mother, it is important to me that I be feminine, modest, and classy in both my dress and behavior. Of course, every woman is going to have a different conviction of what that means, but I thoroughly enjoyed this post by Kelly over at Generation Cedar. I'm attaching it here, so that you too can enjoy the article, and maybe get a few ideas for your own closet as well! Happy Shopping!!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Trusting God

First of all, I'm sorry for not posting my thoughts on the scripture reading yesterday. I have decided to post both yesterday's and today's readings here, instead.

Genesis 11:1-13:4-This passage starts out talking about the sons of Shem, which ends with the marriage of Abram to Sarai. At one point, the Lord tells Abram to pack up everything he owns and move his family to the land the Lord has promised for him. Without hesitation, Abram does exactly what the Lord says. He has full obedience and trust in the Lord that He will provide for him. But, when they enter into the land of Egypt Abram suddenly forgets that he can depend upon God to take care of them. Afraid that he will be put to death when Pharoah sees how beautiful his wife is, he tells Sarai to lie to the Pharaoh and state that she is his sister in order to save his own life. Just imagine how much better it would have been for Abram and Sarai if they would have just kept their faith in God and leaned on His Promise to never forsake them! Lord, I pray that I would stop trying to take matters into my own hands, but that instead I might give full obedience and full trust over to You!

Matthew 5:1-26-I think what stood out to me the most in this passage is metaphors of Christians being both the salt and the light. Jesus is very clear on how Christians are to live. I am called to be the salt of the earth. And, just like salt is worthless if it loses it's flavor, so is a Christian who does not live a life pleasing to God. Lord, I pray that I will never lose my "saltiness". Give me the strength to be a Light in this dark world for You, God!

Psalm 5:1-12-Lord, just like David I desire to spend every waking moment talking to You and praising Your name. Give me a love for You Lord that surpasses all others! 
Proverbs 1:24-28-I need to stop turning to God only when life is hard, but instead lean on Him at all times, through the good and the bad. I need to trust Him fully to take care of me.

Genesis 13:5-15:21-Even though Abram did not fully trust in God to take care of him, God still made a promise to Abram to bless him and make him the father of many nations.How Great is our God to forgive us our sins and still promise to bless us when we turn back to Him! 

Matthew 5:27-48-In this passage, Jesus gives a lot of great commands on how we are to live a life pleasing to God. Being faithful to your spouse, speaking the truth at all times, and treating your others-even your enemies-the way you would want to be treated. Lord, I pray that you would give me the courage to speak the truth always, no matter how difficult it may be. Lord, give me a heart that yearns to see others come to You, and help me to treat others in the same fashion that I would want to be treated.

Psalm 6:1-10-Lord, have mercy on me and forgive my sins. I pray that you would keep my enemies from me and protect me always. 
Proverbs 1:29-33

Friday, January 4, 2013

Full Obedience

Jan. 4, 2013

For today's devotions I read the following:

Genesis 8:1-10:32
Matthew 4:12-25
Psalm 4:1-8
Proverbs 1:20-23

Genesis 8-10 continues the story of Noah and the Great Flood. At this point, the waters receded off the face of the earth and Noah and his family were once again able to step on dry land. I thought it was interesting how many times God told Noah to "multiply and fill the earth". For me, it was another reminder of how important it is to trust God with family size.

In Matthew 4:12-25 we see Jesus beginning the start of His ministry. He calls to Peter, Andrew, James and John to follow Him, and they immediately stop what they're doing and follow Him. Oh, to have obedience like that! How often do I hear God calling me to do something, but instead make excuses as to why I can't obey immediately? Lord, forgive me for my disobedience. I pray I might be like your disciples and follow You always.

Psalm 4:1-8. This is a passage about how, no matter how hard life seems, I know that if I call out to God He will hear my prayers. It is so comforting to know that when things seem bleak and impossible I have my God who loves me, and has a great plan for my life. I can face anything that comes my way, because I know that God will always be with me.

Today, I felt as though the message God was trying to teach me was that of Full Obedience. I need to obey Him when it's easy, and when it's hard. I need to stop putting my own desires ahead of what He desires for me! Only then will I experience true joy and the desires of my heart!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Off To a Great Start!

On Dec. 31, 2012, my husband and I decided we wanted to get-and stay-healthy in the new year. We had recently purchased a juicer, and watched the documentary "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead" on Netflix, and decided that we were going to give healthy eating a GO! We set the goal to go on a "juice fast" for ten days. From Jan. 1-Jan. 10 we would eat (or rather drink) unlimited fruits and vegetables, but nothing else. No meats, no carbs, and NO SWEETS! Once the "juice fast" is over, we plan on continuing our healthy eating habits by eating meats and carbs in moderation (a few times a week), and keeping sweets and junk food to a minimum (once a week).

We are on day 3 of our juice fast, and I am so glad we decided to kick-start our weight loss/healthy living goals this way! We are getting LOADS of nutrients from all the fresh fruits and vegetables, we feel FULL after drinking a juice, AND we are already seeing the pounds come off! This morning, at the start of day 3, I was down FOUR pounds! And, I'm losing it in a healthy way, with a fool-proof plan to keep it off afterwards.

My main focus in this diet is my body. I have shared on here that I have a hormonal imbalance that causes me to have irregular periods and irregular ovulation. Before I turn to medications, I want to try and get my body in the best shape it could be, and for me that meant detoxing my body of all the bad, and filling it with good! I am praying that God will heal me through my dedication to healthy eating. I know medications would probably have a faster result, but I would rather do it naturally, while working with and trusting my body to do what it should.

2013 looks like it's going to be a healthy year!

Jan. 3rd Devotions

Gen. 5:22-Enoch walked with God 300 years. I can hardly fathom how close Enoch must have been to the Lord! I have a feeling that Enoch must have been in constant communication with God, much like you would be with a best friend. Oh, how I long for that kind of relationship with my Heavenly Father! I pray I might be like Enoch, and spend every waking moment in constant communication with God! Like most people, I turn to God when something goes wrong, and seldom at any other time. I want to stop turning to Him when I need something, and instead turn to Him simply because He IS my Best Friend and my Heavenly Father, and I want to spend my life growing closer to Him and growing in His favor. 
Gen. 6:8-Speaking of finding favor in God, what better example than Noah! When God was troubled with the sins of the world and decided to destroy His creation there was only ONE person who stood out and found favor in the Lord's eyes! Do I stand out to the Lord? Or am I blending in with the rest of the world? Lord, I pray that You would fill me with Your Love and that I would spend my time rejoicing and obeying You! 
Gen. 6:22- This verse states that Noah obeyed God in ALL THINGS! Many times, God asks us to do something that seems hard (and in Noah's case, strange!), but no matter what it is, we need to obey our Heavenly Father. I admire Noah for his obedience to His God.

Matthew 3:10-In this verse, John the Baptist is warning the Pharisees and Sadducees that a day will come when the "good fruit" and "bad fruit" is separated, and the bad fruit will be cast into the furnace. Is the way I am living my life reaping good fruit? Lord, show me the ways in which I can rid myself of the bad fruit, and increase the good! 
Matthew 4: Jesus' Temptation. This is perhaps one of the greatest chapters in the Bible! It proves that Jesus was both fully human, AND fully God while here on earth. How comforting to know that the Son of God was also tempted....and that He has shown us how we too can flee from temptation!  If you read this passage, you will see that Jesus quotes scripture each time the devil tries to tempt Him. It is so important to hide God's Word in your heart so that when satan does try to attack you can fight against him! Lord, Help me to save your Words in my heart so that I may be able to stand against the devil's attacks!

Psalm 3:3-4 "But You, O Lord, are a shield about me, My glory, and the One who lifts my had. I was crying to the Lord with my voice, And He answered me from His holy mountain" God, You alone are my Protector and the Giver of my life! Hear me, I pray, as I cry out to You! I pray that not only would You take away my pain, but that You would teach me something in spite of the pain.

Proverbs 1:10-19-From this passage, I felt God saying that it's important to have the right kind of friends, and to surround myself with those who will lift me up and encourage me to grow spiritually. I am so thankful for both my husband, and my best friend who are both there for me on a daily basis to uplift, encourage, and pray with/for me! I am also thankful for the friends I have made on facebook who do the same for me. What an encouragement it is to spend time with other Christians who can help me in my times of sadness!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

I have already mentioned in a previous post the personal mission statement and spiritual goals that I am setting for not only 2013, but long-term as well. However, I thought I would share with you some of my short-term goals for the year 2013.

1. Lose 23 pounds. I still have about 15 pounds of pregnancy weight to lose, so this would actually put me below pre-pregnancy weight! I do not plan on using any diet plan because I know that diets, for me anyway, tend not to work. Instead, I want to simply eat healthy, get rid of the junk food (and when I have it eat it in controlled moderation), and drink plenty of water. Starting today, for the next 10 days I will be on a juice fast. I will juice unlimited fresh fruits and vegetables, but that will be all. Cleansing out my system sounds like a good way to start the year!

2. Understand my cycle. A week ago I found out that I have a hormone imbalance that could cause difficulty in getting pregnant without fertility treatments. My goal for 2013 is to fully understand the cycle God gave me, and to find ways to stay healthy so that my body can support a pregnancy when God sees fit to bless us again.

3. Limit TV time. Ok, so this one is going to be hard! I'm a stay-at-home mom of an 8 month old, without a car. I stay in the house the majority of the day, and my son is too young to have a conversation with. But, I want to find other ways to fill my time, whether it's through blogging, reading, or crafting.

4. Family Time. I want to take time to visit with my extended family this year. My goal is to visit with extended family members at least once a month.

5. Go to South Carolina. I want to plan a trip to visit my best friend and her family at their new home in South Carolina.

6. Give it to God. This one is more of a long-term goal, but I want to start now. I want to hand over the stresses of life to God and put my trust fully in Him, instead of trying to take control of it myself.