Saturday, May 25, 2013

Why is my daughter crying? {A Special Vacation Edition}

On our recent mini-vaca to Great Wolf Lodge in Charlotte, North Carolina, I tried to capture as many of the Girl-Child's meltdowns as possible. Don't get me wrong, we had a blast on our trip! But, with this girl, it doesn't matter how much fun we are having, there will be opportunities for an emotional breakdown.

 "I begged to put these flip-flops on, but I didn't actually want to walk while wearing them!"
 "I would rather cry on the floor of the lobby than participate in the fun, kid-friendly activity happening in front of me!"
 "You can't actually expect me to walk to the hotel room!"
 "I want to sit on this leather couch with you but it squeaks!!!"
"I'm way too tired to sleep!"
 "You helped me climb on this toy!!"
 "I asked for my doll and pillow pet and now that they are on me I can't stand it!"

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Friday, May 17, 2013

A Practical Mom's Guide to New Baby Must-Haves

I have always been a frugal individual, and now that I am on my third pregnancy I feel confident that I have narrowed down my true must-haves for a newborn. Wipes warmers and adorable hooded towels are wonderful, and I am definitely not condemning those that would purchase such items. This is also not meant to be an all-inclusive list (you all know that you are going to need diapers, right?) This is a list of the items that, once I have them ready, I feel ready to bring baby home. These are the items that I do not feel like I could manage [easily] without.

A Car Seat
It's the law, as we all know. Install it by 36 weeks gestation! My first child was born at 37 weeks on the dot and we thought we had plenty of time. Trying to figure out the intricacies of car seat installation during the stress of checking out of the hospital was not very fun!

A Pack-n-Play with Bassinet
I am not against the traditional bassinet, but I like this option because once baby grows out of the bassinet attachment you still have a play yard to use for naps, travel, etc. More use for your money!

Moby Wrap
Every experienced mom has their favorite carrier, and there is nothing wrong with the other options out there. But this is my blog, and I love the Moby. Until I got pregnant again I was still regularly wearing my then 12+ month old, and I have worn both of my kids from days old to toddlerhood. This is a definite can't-live-without item for me!

Bouncy Seat
This can be interchangeable with a swing, and I actually use both, but if I had to choose one piece of gear it would be this. It's a great place for baby to nap, be soothed if he likes vibration, and can be moved to wherever you need it in the house. This is how I accomplish showers, styling my hair, cooking meals, etc. We also sit the bouncy seat on the table each evening during family dinner, so our kid's are accustomed to "sitting at the table" with the family, nightly, from birth. 

Swaddling Blanket
Many first timers do not know this, but regular receiving blankets are not large enough to properly swaddle a baby. I personally swaddled my kids at night until they were 4 months or even older! They slept so much better, were much less fussy, and generally just loved to be swaddled. These contraptions have Velcro in them that makes swaddling so easy, and a newborn's natural movements won't undo all your hard work. I also love that these come in both warm fleece and lightweight cotton, so you can swaddle your little one comfortably in any season. 

Newborn Scratch Mittens
Newborns do not have much control over their movements, and they often have claws like a wolverine. My first child came home from the hospital with socks on his hands to spare his precious face, because as first time mom I thought that these things were dumb. Little did I know that within the first days of life he would scratch his face to the point of bleeding at times. This is now a must have for me for those first few days!

Breast Pads
Here is another item that, as a new mom, I thought seemed unnecessary. I mean, how much can a boob leak, right? You have no idea how much. Thank God that the kind nurses at the hospital cut a maxi pad in half for me to wear in my bra at night, because I was stunned by the amount of milk I leaked during that engorgement period. Breast pads are a must even if you do not plan to nurse, because your milk will come in regardless.

I want to reiterate that this is not an all-inclusive list. But, if I had these few items plus some diapers and clothes on hand I would feel totally okay with bringing my baby home. 

***Photos from This is not a sponsored post nor do I receive anything for recommending these brands. These are simply brands or products that I have used and personally recommend, mom to mom.

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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

An Honest Report On Our 2-Week Restaurant Fast

It might seem like we do a lot of "fasting" around here. I use the word fast to describe purposely abstaining from an activity or item, for a set time, for a defined purpose. I have blogged about our family Media Fast and my Negativity Fast. Our most current endeavor was a 2 week restaurant fast. We have tried this in the past and failed pretty pitifully. Last year we attempted seven days without restaurants. I think we made it for five. For many families, this does not sound difficult at all. I wish we were one of those families!

The two big reasons that we visit restaurants too much are convenience because we are so busy on so many weeknights, and cravings, because sometimes a certain meal or restaurant just sounds way more appealing then whatever I planned to cook.

It really is ridiculous, and each time we have evaluated our finances we come to the same conclusion: we are hemorrhaging money in our food budget, and it is all because of eating out! When we first participated in the Crown Financial Ministries Biblical Financial Study, we discovered that we spent more at restaurants then we did on rent! Holy moly! We have definitely improved since then, but not nearly enough.

The thing is, I really love to cook!  With the proper planning, I have plenty of time in my schedule to cook too. There is absolutely no reason for us to be eating out so often.

The goal of staying away from restaurants for two weeks was to get us in the habit of eating at home. I tried to overcome our main challenges with my meal planning.

  • To avoid temptation based on convenience factors, I bought a few quick-to-prepare frozen food items. I don't usually buy this type of food, but I thought it would help when things get hectic.
  • To avoid temptation based on cravings, I tried to make an extremely varied meal plan. I thought of all the places that we usually eat out, and tried to put similar dishes on our menu. So, for example, I made sure to include an Asian-inspired dish and a homemade pizza, since Asian and pizza are frequent eating out go-to spots for us.
Week one went really well. There was even a day that the kids and I ended up with a long wait, away from home, right around lunch time. I had not planned ahead and packed a lunch to take along, and the mood in my car was quickly deteriorating. Tempted to hit up a drive-thru, I finally opted to head to a convenience store for a few snack items and wait to have lunch at home. Although shopping at the convenience store did require that I buy food out, it wasn't a restaurant, it required some thinking ahead, and our $5 in snacks was much less costly than our typical fast food bill. It also reminded me to prepare snacks for those unexpected times!

At the end of week one, we had an unexpected offer for free babysitting for a date night. I will admit that we seized the opportunity and went for sushi and appetizers at a favorite Japanese restaurant. Although, admittedly, that was in violation of our plan for the week, it actually led us to a really great idea. We decided that (after the fast) we would put a couples date night and a family date night on our calendar on alternating weeks. If we are faithful to eat at home for the entire week, we will reward ourselves with a dinner out on Friday or Saturday. But if we do not eat at home all week, the date night will have to be a non-restaurant activity. I'm really excited about this new plan, because not only does it insure that we are setting aside special evenings, it also gives us an incentive to eat at home every week, not just during this two week period.

Week two was going as planned until the weekend hit. Epic fail. After tee ball on Saturday we visited a favorite deli for lunch. I am pleased to say that we at least ate dinner at home (not typical for us on a Saturday night). Sunday we hit our favorite Irish restaurant for their family-friendly brunch, and had dinner at the ballpark during a minor-league baseball game.

I really, really wanted to report back that we accomplished the whole two weeks with no restaurant visits. But, of course, I will not lie to you. We are imperfect people and we are not capable of living a perfect life, but we are striving to do a little better each day. I can happily report back that because of this "fast" we got back into the habit of thinking about our dining out and being more purposeful about it. For example, after a family lunch date this past Monday, my fella looked at me and said "Okay, we eat at home until our [planned] breakfast out on Saturday!" and it feels good to know that we both have the same goal in mind. It also got me back into menu planning with creativity. Planning meals that I want to cook and the family wants to eat. Finding recipes that we are all excited to try. So, progress was made even if perfection was not achieved!

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Thursday, May 2, 2013

Real Christian Moms Share What Worked For Them in Labor

I am 6 months pregnant with my third child. I have had two typical, uneventful, medicated births in the hospital. I have few complaints about those experiences and feel that I made the best choices at the time. For this baby, my fella and I are planning a natural, unmedicated childbirth at a freestanding birth center. The main reason that we made this decision (before this child was even conceived, by the way) was in the pursuit of a more family-focused, more spiritual birth experience. I am blessed with a husband that not only supports me in pregnancy, but has always been very actively involved in our children's births. We both look forward to the deeper level of involvement and support that he will be able to offer in the birth center atmosphere.There are so many benefits of natural childbirth, and I truly believe that this is the best choice for me this time around. With all that being said, I have had to work through many fears and concerns in preparation for this birth, and continue to do so now. Besides the support of my husband, I have found that my faith and my friends have been the greatest resource in this preparation. So, I decided to ask my Facebook friends to share what helped them the most during labor and delivery. Specifically, I asked for affirmations and scriptures to draw on. I was very blessed and encouraged by the responses, and I want to share them with other mommies out there!
  • “ My favorite verse of all times, and this is my go-to verse for any situations in life that might be ‘anxiety’ provoking... 2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV)- for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”  -Sara
  • “An excerpt from Eph. 3:17-21, ‘...I pray that you...may have grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ...Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, to Him be the glory...!’” -Angela
  • “ 1 Corinthians 2:3-5 […and I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might now rest in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.] This verse was not in my head when I delivered Olivia, but I did think about how He was crucified, and how His strength (that big huge sacrificial strength) was in me. And He carried me through as I know He always will. I did also find praise music calming, but kept it in my head, mainly because I had no clue what I would want to hear in each moment. Also, water is so extremely helpful in labor, and then I find my comfort in that He is a ‘river of joy.’  He made us to physically need water, so it is in His purpose for us to use.” -Meghan
  • “ I had an epidural with our first, Riley, and natural childbirth after that  with Levi and Adelyn. I felt amazing immediately after Levi and Addy were born! What an incredible high!! And I loved being able to get up and walk around the room right after their births! Philippians 4:13 [I can do all things through Him that strengthens me.] all the way!! Plus an amazing labor coach or coaches! My hubby and mom were with me the whole time holding my hands, encouraging me and putting cold washcloths on my forehead and neck. Good luck can do it!!!” -Laura
  • “ I didn’t have a ‘natural/no medication’ labor but what did help me before and even after my epidural was having a good Christian cd playing. We packed our small CD player in our hospital bag and I picked 1 cd (Kristian Stanfill! Awesome CD) that I had playing the whole time. Totally made a difference!!!!!!!” -Emma
  • “ 1 Corinthians 10:13 [No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, , but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.] played on loop in my head during Lily Mae's birth. Temptation for me was the easily accessible medications that were available at the hospital - but sure enough God gave me the strength to endure without them!” -Jess
  • “Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? saith the LORD: shall I cause to bring forth, and shut the womb? saith thy God. Isaiah 66:9” -Adrienne
  • “ I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me. Philippians 4:13” -Jennifer
  • “This too shall pass. Lol” -Pamela
  • “1 Tim. 2:15 (Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.) and John 16:21 (A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.)”- Jennifer C.
  • “ Honestly I'm a music person. I was singing Steven Curtis Chapmans "God is God" during my entire C-section with my last baby, with my second baby I sang Amazing Grace. With my first baby I was just really quiet and weepy and with my third all I could think about was having to pee soooo bad( the nurse kept promising to bring me a bed pan and never did). I have two labor playlists, an energetic one and a relaxing one (I actually listen to them all the time). Music is how I worship and even sometimes pray so that’s what works for me.” -Allicen
  • “ I delivered all 9 of ours at home...each one is always a different experience, but the last one was totally different because I was much more aware of the power I have over my own body. I learned so much from the The Christian Childbirth has scripture in it. I wish I could buy a whole bunch of those books and give one away every time I hear a woman is pregnant! I don't really have a certain verse.” -Emma
  • “ Phil 4:8 - Whatsoever is true, holy, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, dwell on these things. Use this scripture to back up focusing on truth about natural childbirth...
    -God created me and my body. He designed me to do this for His glory.
    -The pain is not forever.
    -There are breaks in between the pains.
    -Ultimately this is what I feel is healthier for me and my children (personal conviction).
    -I am being a good steward of my body by doing this as naturally as possible (personal conviction...and I do believe that c-sections have their place and so do pain meds...but I do have a personal conviction that leaving your body to work the way God designed is best unless He allows a trial in your labor that requires intervention).
    -The more painful it becomes, the closer I am to the end. When it feels like I can't take anymore, it's just about over.
    I also keep things out that are specifically for the baby that I am giving birth to. With my son, my midwife handed me his newborn sock and laid it in my hand to remember what I was laboring for (68 hour labor...I needed the encouragement). With my daughter, I set out things I had bought/made for her. I put her teddy bear that we dressed in a purple dress in plain sight (her name is Lydia after the Lydia in the NT who was a seller of purple).  FYI - I HATED music in It's a personal preference.” -Michelle
There are so many, many other resources out there, but I have gleaned so much from these suggestions. I also find it so helpful to hear and read birth stories as much as possible. I also have a growing library of books on the subject of natural childbirth and will share that list soon!

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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Southern Etiquette EVERYONE Should Know

I moved to Southeast Georgia when I was 11 years old. Even before that, I would say that my family did things the "southern way," as my extended family are all from Tennessee and Kentucky. Many aspects of Southern hospitality and etiquette are second nature to me. That being the case, I am sometimes offended or taken aback by a lack of what I consider to be common sense in manners and etiquette. So, with the help of family and friends, I compiled this list of Southern etiquette that everyone should know. No matter where you live, you can put these suggestions into practice and never worry that someone might question the way you were brought up.
  • Call everyone "ma'am" or "sir" whether they are older or younger than you. Down South, these words indicate respect and manners, not age!
  • Always take a hostess gift to a party or dinner.
  • If someone does something nice for you, gives you a gift, or you stay at their home, send a thank you note. Always. When in doubt, send one anyway. No one has ever been offended by a thank you note!
  • When invited to a party or dinner, always offer to bring a dish. 
  • Always pull over for a funeral procession. Don't just slow down and wait for the cops to pass, and definitely do not ever pass them in the next lane. This is the law in Georgia, but even if it isn't in your state, do it out of respect!
  • Always welcome new folks to the neighborhood with food or a small gift.
  • Hold the door for the person behind you.
  • Allow people to exit before you enter. This applies to businesses, elevators...anything with a door.
  • Walk guests to the door, always. Even if they have been over to your house several times.
  • If someone has surgery, a new baby, or a death in the family, bring them a casserole. That's just how it's done.
  • Men take off their hats at dinner and to pray, as well as for the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem.
  • When someone invites you over for dinner, return the invite as soon as possible. (This doesn't necessarily apply for group functions like barbecues or parties, but always applies if someone has just you and your spouse and/or children over!)
  • When a guest arrives at your home, offer them a beverage. Everyone. Even the cable guy or AC repairman.
  • Women wear jewelry. Even with shorts and flip-flops.
This is certainly not an all-inclusive list, and I am certainly guilty of violating some of them from time to time! 
The point is to "act like you were raised right," "don't be ugly," and never, never start to act "too big for your britches." 

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