photo rain1.png photo home.png photo about-2.png photo contact.png photo shop.png photo rain2.jpg photo rain3.png
Showing posts with label Life. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Life. Show all posts

Monday, August 26, 2019

4 Reasons You Should Try Dry Brushing

About 6 months ago I heard of dry brushing, and decided to give it a try. It is pretty much the quickest, cheapest, self care habit ever! It takes like 3 minutes, with just a brush, and it's so good for you! I have loved it, it has quickly become one of my favorite parts of my routine.

What is Dry Brushing?

Dry brushing is a quick and easy health and beauty practice with multiple health benefits both internally, and for your skin. It is exactly what it sounds like. It is massaging a dry soft bristle brush on dry skin all over your body. It is best done daily!

Benefits of Dry Brushing?

Promotes Glowing Skin
The most obvious benefit to Dry Brushing is exfoliation. It exfoliates the skin by removing dead skin cells. It also removes dirt from your pores.  It's great for bringing your skin to life!

Internal Detox
Dry brushing increases blood circulation, which does more than make your skin look great. It stimulates or "wakes up" your lymphatic system and promotes lymphatic drainage. I know, what's that right? Basically, this helps your body detox internally and get rid of the accumulation of toxins in it! This is amazing to me! The detoxing process is also a great aid in weight loss, because while you eat healthy and exercise, detoxing helps your body do what it's supposed to do and work correctly.

Fights Bloat and Cellulite
The increase in blood circulation and lymphatic drainage helps reduce inflammation and strengthen your connective tissue. This, in turn works to reduce the appearance of cellulite, fight that annoying bloating!

Stimulates Nervous System
Dry Brushing stimulates your nervous system as well. This is one of my favorite parts, because it wakes me up and energizes me instantly. I love have a healthy, natural way to wake up and feel ready for the day!

When to Dry Brush?

Dry brushing is best done right before a shower. It exfoliates your skin, then the warm water from the shower will open up your pores. The key is to do it dry though, so no brushing in the actual shower! The hot water can remove moisture from your skin, so brushing first and dry exfoliates and gets the blood circulating, while keeping your skin moisturized.

You can still do Dry Brushing on days you don't shower. I just still follow up with a body oil to moisturize.

How to Dry Brush?

Choose a dry brush. These are super inexpensive on Amazon or at Target! I have this one from Target, and it has worked great, but I'd like to try a natural bristled one soon.

The actual process is so easy! Just do short, gentle, brush strokes! Start at the feet, and work towards the core. For your arms, start at your finger tips and work towards your heart! For you actual core, brush in a circular motion clockwise with the flow of your intestines. I try to pay special attention to places where my lymph nodes are such as armpits, jaw line, and near the groin. Just make sure to be gentle, the goal is not to break the skin!

The last step is to finish with a moisturizing body oil! When I take a shower, I apply the oil after the shower. This feels amazing to moisturize after exfoliating and getting that blood pumping. It makes your skin look awesome too!

My Favorite Body Oil

I've been using a simply body oil I made with a couple simple carrier oils from Amazon along with favorite Essential oils .

Fractionated Coconut Oil- Fractionated coconut oil absorbs quickly into the skin and leaves it feeling hydrated without feeling greasy.

Vitamin E Oil- Vitamin E Oil has antioxidant and anti inflammatory properties. It helps with itching and irritation. It is amazing for skin appearance. It helps skin look healthy and young.

Body Oil:
1 Cup Fractionated Coconut oil
2 Tbs Vitamin E Oil
20 Drops Essential Oil (See favorite suggestions below.)

Go To Essential Oil Combos for Body Oil
This smells AMAZING! Just like a spa!
Rosemary- Improves circulation, helps digestion, has anti-aging properties. 
Lemongrass- Acts as an astringent, tightens skin, reduces pores
Grapefruit- Helps boost weight loss, aids digestion, natural mood booster, anti inflammatory, evens skin care, naturally antibacterial
Valor or Blue Tansy- Valor is one of my favorite oil blends and it also includes blue tansy, which is one of the most powerful anti inflammatory oils on Earth. It helps reduce redness and settle irritation. 
Reduces stretch marks and scar tissue, rejuvenates skin, improves elasticity, and reduces wrinkles

Let me know if you need to order essential oils, and I'll walk you through it! Let me know if you have any questions about Dry Brushing or body oil. I've been so excited to share about this for a while! It has been so fun to research and try!

Friday, August 23, 2019

How Our Family Affords Clean Living

This year, we started the process of switching over from toxins and chemicals in our home to a clean and natural life style. I know, so often it feels overwhelming to make the switch, and so expensive. We have found it to be completely doable with our budget, and there a few things that have helped along the way. I just wanted to share how we do it, because it doesn't have to cost a fortune! And, it so worth it to be intentional about what kinds of things are in your home!

If you want to chat more about our natural lifestyle, have questions, or want to know how to grab your Young Living Starter kit, just send me a message and I'll walk you through it!

Having  a Membership
All you have to do to become a member of Young Living is buy a starter kit. That's literally it. There are not membership fees, or requirements. You get your starter kit which has 12 of their most loved and versatile oils and is priced at over 50%, then you automatically get 24% off every order, always.

If you think about it, many memberships like Costco charge you a fee to sign up, and you didn't even get any products yet. There's also a yearly fee to stay a member. With Young Living, you only have to order once a year to keep that membership, and no additional fees! The 24% off discount is definitely the way to go!

Once you're a member, many things, like the household cleaner are comparable, or cheaper than places like Target! The cleaner comes out to about $0.88 a spray bottle. So, we have saved so much we used to spend on getting multiple types of cleaners for each area of the house.

Essential Rewards 
The most affordable way to get clean products in your home is to subscribe to Essential Rewards. Essential Rewards is Young Living's monthly wellness box where you can choose what is sent each month. You can also choose which day the box comes as well! The great thing about about Young Living is that you can get all the products you need for your home, cleaning, beauty, supplements, and personal care from one place! We have replaced everything we used to buy at Target, Walmart, and Amazon with one box that comes right to our door.

What makes Essential Rewards so affordable is the points back you earn each month. For your first 3 months, you get 10% back in points on top of your already 24% off discount. Then, from months 4-24, you get 20% back in points, and after that you get 24% back! It's like getting cash back on things you need to buy anyways. We use our points each month to get more products for free!

Essential Rewards also has promos each month to get free products. They have loyalty rewards as well! You get a free bottle of essential oil after being on Essential Rewards, 3, 6, 9, and 12 months!

Replacing Already Budgeted Items
Rather than clean, non toxic products being an added expense to our budget, we just replaced items we were already buying with better options. Essential Rewards is a $50 per month monthly minimum, but that's not an additional 50 we are spending. We just get whatever we are out of that month from makeup and shampoo, to laundry detergent or all purpose cleaner. It's all money we were already spending at multiple different places. Now it actually just easier to get everything from one place that we trust!

Using Concentrated Products
It's super nice that Young Living doesn't charge you to ship water. Many of their products are highly concentrated and can be diluted. So, our cleaning supplies last for months! It's also so convenient and easy that Thieves cleaner works for everything! Just buying one bottle of cleaner every six months is so easy. We use the Thieves Household cleaner for all surfaces, toilets, tubs, floors, windows and mirrors, carpet spot cleaner, stain treatment, etc.

One thing to keep in mind too, is that with many natural products, they last longer and you don't have to use as much! There are so many hacks to dilute your products and make them last longer. Things like dish soap, hand soap, laundry detergent, even shampoo and conditioner! There is an awesome community and home facebook page where people share ideas, recipes, hacks, and experiences to make it so easy!

I know not everyone is a DIY person, but I'm all about simple DIY's that save money.  I have found so many super easy DIY's to use for natural products that work better than anything I've used before. I love sharing them on my Instagram, and here on the blog! Follow along to find them. My friend and I also love hosting private classes for natural living on Facebook. We share lot's recipes that anyone can do on different categories from home to kiddos! Keep an eye out for the next class on September 10 at 8pm CST and just message me to reserve a spot!

Sharing with Friends
Another way we can afford natural living is by doing the business side of Young Living. Hear me out, it's much different from many companies.

You don't have to have a social media following, blog, host facebook parties, reach out to friends you haven't talked to in years with a sales pitch. You don't have to be pushy, salesy, or spammy. All you do is share what you love and what works for you with friends! There's also no investment to the business. You just become a member and use your products!

When you love something and it's working for you, you end up telling your friends about it anyways.  You earn a bonus everytime your friends ask you how to get the things in your home and try it themselves! It's as easy as that!

Young Living is not a pyramid scheme, or a get rich quick ploy, the company is just rewarding people who are loving their lifestyle and sharing already instead of a marketing department.

It's also so fun with talk with friends everyday who are doing it too!

Investing in our Health
Investing in our health has also brought down other expenses like doctor visits. During Joslynne's first year, we spent so much time at the doctor, especially in the winter. For a while, every single time we travelled, and got on a plane, we ended up sick and in an urgent care while we were away. Doing things to keep us as healthy as possible, has saved us money, in the long run!

Getting Plugged into the Community
When you become a member of Young Living, you get access to a community of friends who are on the same journey and share their experiences, what has worked for them, advice, and love to answer questions! I really like hearing how a product works for someone else before spending money on it myself!

We have also done a few things to save money this year! You can read how we've been saving money on food here, and other simple ways we save money here.

Don't hesitate to contact me at anytime with questions, or for help ordering Young Living!

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Third Trimester Practices I Wish I Knew Sooner

Third trimesters last forever. It's so uncomfortable, sleep is impossible, and your organs are shoved in areas they shouldn't be. Fatigue returns after the beloved second trimester felt so good, plus you can no longer reach anything that falls on the ground , and you just want to hold that baby. I haven't been pregnant since last summer, but now that I've been through 2 pregnancies, I've been meaning to write down for a while now, things that helped me. Now that my sister is in her 3rd trimester and we talk about tricks to try, I figured it was a good time to share!

My summer 3rd trimester went so much smoother with Elaina's pregnancy than my first one! I know each pregnancy is different, but there were a few things I changed the second time around that made a huge difference.

I am not a medical professional in anyway, and each person is very different. This is just what worked for me. But, definitely do your own research and talk to your doctor before making any changes that could affect your pregnancy.

When I was 28 and 29 weeks pregnant with Joslynne, I kept having contractions. Not Braxton Hicks, but painful, can't-talk-through-them contractions. It was obviously way too early, and the heat didn't help. I started eating a TON of watermelon, like 1/4 of one a day! I just loved it and it was so refreshing during blistering hot July and August. My contractions stopped! I think so much watermelon was helping me get the extra hydration I needed! ;)

Elevate your feet the right way
I had such a problem with foot and ankle swelling the first time around. I was miserable. I kept hearing to elevate my feet. Apparently I was living under a rock, and thought just laying down was enough elevation. This is probably the most obvious thing ever, but the key is to have you legs elevated higher than your heart to make blood circulate better. Doing it the right way helped tremendously! ;)

Swollen ankle roller
Massaging my legs and ankles helped a ton as well! It works best to massage towards the heart to help circulation. Sometimes it's hard to reach your ankles at this point of pregnancy, so I'd ask Wes for help.

This roller was the best for swelling and water retention discomfort!

Water Retention Massage Oil Blend:
2 Drops Tangerine Essential Oil
1 Drop Lemon Essential Oil
4 Drops Cypress Essential Oil
4 Drops Lavender Essential Oil
3 Drops Geranium Essential Oil
Drop into 10 ml Roller bottle and top with Jojoba Oil (or carrier oil of choice)

Iron rich food matters
I had heard the recommended servings of iron rich foods during pregnancy, but didn't take it seriously at first. I was anemic during pregnancy and could definitely feel it. I had such low energy and would feel weak, shaky, and sick in the middle of the day. My first reaction was to want sugar, but I needed iron. The food that was the most effective was elk! Haha

Obviously elk meat is not the easiest to come by, but there are a lot of iron rich foods that would be great to intentionally add to your diet! This graphic was really helpful since it shows which foods have the most iron!

Belly roller
That bloated tight feeling, like you might actually explode any second, is just another third trimester struggle. I noticed a big difference when I rubbed Young Living's Gentle Baby essential oil blend on my bump!

Belly Roller
Fractionated coconut oil
15 drops Gentle Baby
15 drops Frankincense

I also experienced dry itchy skin as my bump grew, so next time I would try this magic cream! I hear amazing things about it! Gentle baby and Frankincense are awesome for stretch marks too! :)

Magic Cream
2 oz Raw Shea butter 
5 Drops Frankincense Essential Oil
5 Drops Lavender Essential Oil5 Drop Gentle Baby Essential Oil

Mix well together and store in 2 oz jar

Just stop wearing pants
During my second pregnancy, I was already so uncomfortable as is typical for third trimesters. I just felt so grumpy when I wore jeans as I got bigger, hotter and less flexible. I stopped wearing jeans at all as soon as the 3rd trimester started, and it was the best thing ever! I bought some cute dresses from  PinkBlush and H&M and Zella leggings. You might think chasing around your kiddos in dresses would be hard, but it was easier for me than dealing with jeans all day!

Take a Pepcid AC before bed
I got terrible heartburn during both pregnancies. During one of my visits with a midwife when my doctor was out of town, she said I could take a Pepcid AC before bed. This was LIFE CHANGING! My doctor is so amazing, but sometimes different people have different tips and tricks based on experience. :)

Activia Yogurt
This is just a small thing, but I realized it helped so much when my digestive system was working at its best. Activia yogurt helped a ton because of the probiotics. Next time, I'd love to try some other things and be intentional about supporting my digestive system!

Perineum Care
So, the most awkward topic ever, but I have to mention it. If this is TMI, feel free to skip this part. ;)

***Like I said, though, I am not a medical professional and some things can induce labor. I also had a low risk pregnancy and was not Group B positive, etc. Do not try anything without asking your doctor, assessing your situation and what you're comfortable with, and waiting until you are full term.

 I had a terrible tear during labor with Joslynne. I did some research on preparing your cervix for labor and decided to give it a try. Everyone is different, but it most definitely paid off for me.

Three weeks before delivery:
8 drops Geranium Essential Oil
5 Drops Lavender Essential Oil
Top with carrier oil and apply three times a day

One week before delivery:
8 drops Geranium Essential Oil
5 Drops Lavender Essential Oil
5 Drops Fennel Essential Oil (Keep in mind, Fennel can cause contractions!)
Top with carrier oil and apply 1-3 times a day

I'd love to hear any other 3rd trimester tips you have! The last trimester is so uncomfortable and can feel so long, but it's so worth it when we get to hold our babies!

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

14 Simple Ways to Save Money on Food

At the beginning of the year, Wes and I looked at our budget, and realized we have been spending a lot more since having a second baby. Some of the expense is formula we didn't initially plan on having to buy. We also had been spending more just because of lack of time and energy since adjusting to life with 2 littles.

We have a list of things that are important for us to save up for by the end of the year. We need a new vehicle, we would like to move closer the places we go daily and weekly (work, church, preschool, friends), and now we have to buy Joslynne her own plane ticket when we travel. We've been wanting to make some changes to safer, healthier products in our home for a while now too!

One of our biggest expenses every month is food. Obviously, one of the most important too, but it seemed higher than necessary, so we started looking for ways to save. I wanted to find easy, practical, and simple ideas that wouldn't disrupt our lives or sacrifice health. These are just a few ideas that have been sucessful for us! I'm planning to share a part 2 with non food related ideas next week!

Eat Eggs
Eggs are so cheap, but a really great source of protein. They are easy to buy in large amounts, and can  stay good for a while. Joslynne has an egg allergy, but the rest of us eat eggs at least once a week for dinner, lots of breakfasts, and even some lunches.

I love how easy they are to make in many different ways too!

Homemade snacks
Wes likes to bring granola bars to work everyday. They are also an easy grab and go snack. I started making homemade bars so we didn't have to buy boxes of them weekly. We love this recipe! It tastes like eating cookies. ;)

Meatless Monday
We started eating one meatless meal a week. However, I wanted to still add protein to our meals. One of our favorites is protein pancakes! We buy boxes of Kodiak Cake Protein Pancake Mix in bulk. You  can just add water! These are some of the only pancakes we've found that don't have eggs or soy so our whole family can eat them. ;)

Other favorites to add to meatless meals are beans and quinoa for protein!

Costco Membership
Having a membership to a bulk store has been huge. We buy all of our meat and baking ingredients at Costco, as well as condiments. Their prices are super cheap for large quantities. We have an additional freezer in our garage so we can purchase more food at once. We take a Costco trip every 6-8 weeks and it saves a ton on our grocery bill!

Some favorites we find at Costco are: Milk, Flour, Sugar, Crackers, Cheese Sticks, Canned Goods, Paper Towels, Chicken, Ground Beef, Pork Roasts, Chicken Broth, Yogurt, Spaghetti, Pasta Sauce, BBQ Sauce, Fruit snacks, Salsa, Broth

Meal Plan
Meal planning is huge for staying on budget.   We make a list of meals for the week, and make a grocery list from that. This way, we don't buy more than we need or have things in the house that will expired before getting used.

Freeze Milk
We can buy milk in bulk at Costco, then freeze what we won't use right away! It's also really nice to have so much on hand so we don't run out often.

Homemade Baby Food 
Baby food is so easy to make and really inexpensive. I can make a month's worth for Elaina in an hour. And it only costs a few dollars.

We make: Spinach, carrots, apples, peas, squash, sweet potato, pears, bananas, blueberries, and peaches often. We mix some too. ;)

We freeze the food in ice cube serving sizes. They last forever. At meals, we just thaw a cube of food to add to cereal or oatmeal. We also grab a cube to take out and about and it thaws by the time Elaina wants to eat.

We also make our own baby food pouches. We bought these refillable pouches and love them. They are so easy to clean and refill. We just fill a couple with a few cubes of baby food and put them in the fridge for a couple days. They are thawed when we grab one to give the baby!

Side Note:
We add Choomee covers to our pouches so Elaina can't squeeze the food out. These are amazing! The only way to get the food out is to suck on it, so no more disasters!

How we make the food:

1. Cube desired fruit or vegetable
2. Steam on stove top.
3. Remove from heat and cool.
4. Puree using blender, food processor, or Magic Bullet (We are obsessed with this one and use it daily).
5. Spoon food puree into an ice tray and freeze.
6. Once frozen, pop out cubes and store in freezer safe container.

Stop Buying Drinks
When we decided to try spending less on food, we cut out any juice, soda, or drinks besides milk (and our antioxidant fav). Now we just drink water at meals, and it's healthier while lowering our spending!

Bring Food When We Go Out
If we know we are going to run errands or be out for a long time during the day, we try to bring our own snacks and lunch. We usually are packing a lunch box for Elaina anyways, so it's easy to fill it with food for the rest of us too!

We have made hundreds of dollars back by using Ibotta. This is an app that gives you cash back when you buy certain things in stores or online. I just scroll through their offers and add ones I want to use before going to the store. While shopping, you can scan barcodes to make sure you found the correct item. I scan my receipt as soon as I check out for cash back!

Some offers may require you to purchase 2 at once or a more expensive brand. However, there are bonuses for using a certain amount of offers, so sometimes it's worth it to stock up or buy the more expensive brand. For example, an additional $10 back if you use 20 offers by the end of the week. For something like that, I use all the offers for anything we will use to get the bonus.

Offers are always changing, so check often! Many items we buy anyways pop up all the time. :)

Walmart Grocery Pick up
As soon as I make a meal plan for the week, I submit my Walmart grocery order based on the meal plan. This allows me to buy only what we need. It's also pretty amazing to have the groceries brought straight to my car without getting the girls out!  When I'm in the store, I almost always purchase something extra because it looks good, or I see a deal, get side tracked, etc.

Shop the Pantry
Meal planning also allows me to choose meals based on what we already have. I like to go into the pantry (and freezer) before planning our meals and making a grocery list, to see what we can use up. This helps us use everything before it expires and we buy less and waste less.

Freezer Meals
A couple years ago, I started making double batches of meals and freezing half for another day. This saves time since you are doing the same amount of work for 2 meals. It's so nice to be able to pull out a whole meal on a day we don't have time to cook! It also saves money since leftovers don't get wasted. I can't tell you how many times we've had 1/2 or one serving left of a meal in the fridge and we forget about it.

Purchase produce locally
We have a local grocery store that has great produce prices, and the quality is usually better than Walmart anyways! I think many cities have something like it, and I've heard good things about Aldi. ;)

We also have found that produce is usually cheaper at the farmer's market. Plus everything is organic and tastes amazing! We don't get there all the time, we always save money on fruit and vegetables when we do. There's a huge one in the city near us from June-October!

Extra Tips
  • Whole carrots are much cheaper than the already peeled baby carrots. Plus, Wes says they taste better. ;)
  • Bagged apples are cheaper than buying them individually.
  • Freeze half your spinach before it goes bad, or buy frozen spinach for smoothies
  • Put herbs in a glass of water with ziplock bag over them in the fridge so they last longer.
  • If you stock up on bread, freeze a loaf until you need it. 
I know there are so many other money saving tips out there! These are just little changes I could make easily right away. I'd love to hear any other ideas you might have on how to save money on food! 

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Essentials for the Pumping Mama

Photography by Misty D. Photography

Joslynne nursed for 17 months. It was great! I hardly ever pumped unless we had a date night. I didn't have to think about having enough food on the go. We saved a ton of money by not buying formula. When breastfeeding wasn't working with Elaina, I was already disappointed, discouraged, and worried about making sure she had what she needed. Read more about Elaina's story here. Then there were things like bottle warming, cleaning, finding the right formula, and figuring out how to afford it that were all new territory for us!

Newborn days are sweet, but also exhausting and emotional. We want the very best for this new baby we are already ridiculously in love with. When we hear so much that breastfeeding is best (which I wholeheartedly agree with), it's nerveracking when that doesn't work. Why is my body failing my baby? What am I doing wrong? How long do I push for this when we are all exhausted? Am I quitter if I try something else?

These were all things that went through my mind. There is so much encouragement out there for breastfeeding. Which I love! Sometimes we need cheering on not to quit, it will get better, or that it will be worth it. But as much as I advocate and love breastfeeding, sometimes we need to hear it's ok if it doesn't work.

Feed your baby. Do what your family needs. You are still an amazing mama. And here are some resources to help you move on to the next plan. That's what we need sometimes. That's what I needed. One of the most encouraging things a doctor said to me in the hospital when Elaina wouldn't breastfeed was, "She might figure it out. But, in the meantime, buy a pumping bra." She gave me an actual resource for my current situation.

I was a little lost. As we found things that helped us, I made a list. So I could offer encouragement to mamas on both sides of the struggle. This is by no means comprehensive. And, I don't have a ton of experience pumping away from home. This is just what we used and loved. I'd love for you to add anything else you have found essential!

Essentials for the Pumping Mama

Most breastfeeding moms pump too, so I know this isn't a foreign concept. Especially working mamas who are definitely pros. However, when I predominately nursed, even though we had bottles, we didn't use anything special to clean them, or warm them. I didn't have pump on the go, and even when I pumped here and there at home, I just held the pump up to myself! If you're going to pump and bottle feed daily, you gotta add some tools for your sanity! 

 Pumping Bra
Hands free pumping changed my life. First of all, using a pumping bra helped me hunch over less, so my back and neck were much happier! I could relax, and not make a mess like I would if I accidentally pulled the pump away. I could also feed my baby while pumping. I just fed her from milk I already had to save time. This way I didn't have to pump, then still feed her!

Bottle Warmer
I think anyone that babysat Jos just had to run the breastmilk I left for her under warm water. That was the only time we had to deal with bottle warming. When every bottle was coming from frozen or refrigerated breastmilk, we needed something to warm bottles quickly. Having a bottle warmer was a life saver. Especially with a hangry baby! ;)

Haakaa Hand Pump
When I first heard about this hand pump, I thought there is no way this actually works. Oh man, it sure does! It's amazing when you are out and can't pump. It actually fills up with milk without you doing anything! It's easy, and portable. Also, simple to wash! You can just save the milk in it with the lid. Make sure you order one with a lid! It looks like some of the listings on Amazon don't include one. ;) I also used this if I was getting ready and didn't have a lot of time to stop and pump. It's a fairly quick way to get some milk if you need it right away.

Bottle Drying Rack
At first, I didn't think I needed this. I just laid out bottle and pump parts on a towel on the counter. This was my mom's idea to keep everything in one place and easy to find. It also saves counter space! This one fits all our bottles and sippy cups!

Bottle Brush
Another thing I thought was extra. Haha, I don't even know what I was thinking. I'm probably the only mom who didn't already have a bottle brush! This is so helpful. It has a tiny brush you can unscrew from the bottom to get in tiny areas and bottle nipples. It's also amazing for sippy cup straws. How did I ever live before? :P

What we use
If you need a pump, before buying one, call your health insurance company. Ours gives each family a free pump per child. We just had to pick it up from a certain place once the baby was born. We didn't get to pick the brand, but it has worked great!

Breast Milk Storage Bags
We used these bags. I know there are some that fit right on the pump, but I always spill the milk that way. I have spilled way too many entire bottles worth of milk. And when that happens, we all slowly die inside. :(

We love these bottles. They are actually the only ones we've ever tried. Elaina likes to hold her own bottle, so these are short and easy for her. When both our girls used bottles, (yes after breastfeeding I let Joslynne drink milk from a bottle. Ugh dumb mistake! :P) I just bought 2 colors to keep them seperate.

Other Tips

Easiest way to get a bottle ready for late night feedings
One nice thing about breastfeeding is that you don't have to actually get up in the night if your baby is in your room. I usually just sat up and nursed Joslynne in bed. When your babe wakes up hungry, by the time you get up and warm a bottle, the whole house might be awake!

Before bed, I would just bring a bag of frozen breastmilk to our room and set it on the nightstand with a clean bottle. By the time Elaina woke up, the milk was usually thawed and room temperature! Then I would pump while I fed it to her. I would put the pumped milk on the night stand for the next feeding.

Did you know that breastmilk can stay unrefridgerated for 4-7 hours? It's so nice! I've heard different things, so I usually just went with 6 hours or less.

Lactation Cookies
I've never had trouble with my supply. Well, until it dried up pumping. I know there are many things you can try to bring it up. I honestly didn't try most of them. At the point when my supply dried up, we just decided we were ready. I have tried these cookies and they are delicious. When I ate them I was pumping tons of milk. I already made a lot, but I think these might have helped increase the supply even more. Worth a try especially because every mama deserves amazing cookies!

Transitioning for formula
I could tell I was drying up after a couple months of pumping. I wanted at least some breastmilk in Elaina for as long as possible. We started supplementing with formula before I was completely done pumping. I just gave her mostly formula, and saved frozen breastmilk for one bottle a day. We stretched out the breastmilk we had for about 4 more weeks!

How to save money on Formula

We finally had to move on to plan C and feed Elaina exclusively formula. When you weren't planning on it, formula is a huge expense. We didn't do much research on which kind of formula because Elaina had to have it so early on in the hospital. We didn't have time to think about it, so we used the brand our pediatrician, who we trust, recommended. Then, we just stuck with that. It definitely wasn't the cheapest brand, but it's the way it happened, so we've made it work. 

Join the formula brand's rewards program

I haven't checked other brands, but I would think most have some sort of rewards program! We use Enfamil and joined their Family Beginnings program. You just create a free account and include your email. We get multiple $5 and $10 coupons in the mail every month!

Ordering from the website is the cheapest option a lot of the time! They have sales often. They also offer free shipping over $50 and you can buy in bulk. You earn points back with each order that can be redeemed for free cans of formula as well!

Compare prices at different stores

When we have to grab formula in the store, I assumed Walmart would be the cheapest option. I was surprised how much the prices vary between grocery stores. We have found the cheapest prices at Costco (when they carry our brand) and Lucky (a local grocery store). So, it's worth comparing prices. A couple dollars makes a huge difference with something we have to buy so much of!


I also use the Ibotta app pretty often for cash back on in store and online purchases. The app has different offers each week at various stores. I have found our formula on there for $5 back several times! I just check the app before shopping to make the most out of my shopping trip.

Photography by Misty D. Photography

Monday, June 17, 2019

Elaina's Bilibaby Story

Our Elaina's first month of life was a little out of the ordinary. I'm sharing her story, as a peek into her little life, and just because I wanted to record it. I am no medical professional and my vocabulary and understanding is probably grossly oversimplified. 


During our discharge from the hospital with Elaina, our nurse threw in "oh yes, and you need to take her to a lab tomorrow and get her blood drawn to test her bilirubin level." Whoa, back up! What's bilirubin? Is she ok? She told us Elaina was slightly jaundice, and she should be fine. Bilirubin, the chemical that causes jaundice should go down. She was just higher than they like to see. 

We went home and took her to the lab the next day, thinking, and hoping it was just a precaution. We got a call that night that the Bilirubin level increased, so she needed to be checked the next day again. That call was Friday night. We were a little discouraged, but we were told to just feed her as much as possible because bilirubin leaves the body through urine. Also, put her near a window often because sunlight can help break the chemical down. Jaundice is very common, it often is gone in a few days! By Saturday morning, I couldn't get Elaina to wake up for a feeding. Bilirubin makes babies lethargic. I was hoping she'd wake up at the hospital lab and catch on to eating. Since newborns sleep so often, it was hard to know when it becomes too much.

Even with the poke of getting her blood drawn, nope, still sleeping. I mean she let out scream, but that was about it. We took her to the pediatrician's office, and got the result from the blood test and the bilirubin level had gone up considerably. The doctor told us she needed phototherapy. So, bilirubin is not always harmful. There is a certain amount our bodies can handle no problem. The issue is if the level gets too high, it can cause neurological damage. Since Elaina's level was increasing, and she was too sleepy to eat, we needed to break the chemical down. Phototherapy is a light that helps break down bilirubin. At home, its kind of like a little blanket that glows against the baby's skin. The doctor called into a medical supply company with a perscription for a phototherapy light. It was supposed to delivered to our house. 

By 3 pm, the light hadn't showed up. I called the supply company, and they hadn't even started processing the perscription! Long story short, the company was not going to get it to us until late that night, and my 3 day old baby hadn't had a feeding in 14 hours. We did eventually get her to eat almost an ounce of formula, but it wasn't enough. The higher her bilirubin level got, the more lethargic she was, but not eating or peeing was increasing the level, etc. You get the point, vicious cycle. She was getting into the danger zone. By 5 pm our pediatrician told us to go to the children's hospital. 

We grabbed Joslynne, a couple of essentials, and left. And by essentials, I mean, Joslynne's paci. Not any real necessities like say food, clothes, deodorant. Oh, and did I bring my pain reliever or stool softener since I was 3 days postpartum? No, no I didn't. That would have been too smart. :) We didn't know if it was just going to be an ER visit or if we'd be admitted. 

The Hospital

As soon as we arrived, our nurse tested Elaina's level again and it had sky rocketed again. I hated hearing that number. Especially since I had the number in my head that could cause brain damage in newborns.  I was relieved to be there since she could get an IV to keep her hydrated and get her wetting diapers quickly. We could also use a much more aggressive phototherapy light than we would at home. At the hospital, she was pretty much in a baby tanning bed, with light under her and shining on her. 

I could only hold Elaina for 30 minutes every several hours, so trying to get her awake to breastfeed wasn't the priority initially. Just getting something in her was. So, we had to feed her a bottle. The hospital staff was amazing and did want to help me breastfeed once the bilirubin went down enough to wake her up. 

So, I pumped like crazy! I was pumping 6 ounces everytime, so supply was no problem! We were at the hospital all night, and by morning she was awake. :) We would check her level again after 12 hours, and we were praying it went down. It did slightly.  Praise the Lord, it didn't go up anymore. 

All of Sunday was spent trying to feed Elaina, then getting her under the light as much as possible. She wouldn't breastfeed. Even though she was alert again, she had no interest. I tried each time I got to hold her, and hoped she would catch on. My focus was definitely getting her to a point where we could go home. I thought everything could go back to normal when I could hold her more. 

The hospital was awesome, and had lots of toys for Joslynne. She was going crazy though. Poor girl was already so confused on why Wes and I had been gone all week, now we couldn't go home. We don't live close to the hospital. We had siblings who were amazing to come take her out for a while. I also ran over to their house to shower, because pumping, no sleep, and postpardom hot flashes do not amount to a good thing. :P Also, food, we finally ate food. 

On Sunday night, the blood test didn't show encouraging numbers. Her level went up again. At this point, the doctor wanted to give her a coombs test. Sometimes jaundice could be caused by incompatible blood between mama and baby. I know there are much more severe issues to go through, but at this point, we were so exhausted and discouraged. I wanted to know if this was an indication of a bigger problem. Why wouldn't it just go down? It was hard to get any answers yet. 

On Monday morning, the bilirubin level decreased again. And the Coombs test was negative!  Maybe we were making progress! I met with 2 lactation consultants that day, and they both told me the problem just seemed to be Elaina's motivation. She just didn't want to suck. She showed that she could for a few seconds, then gave up and just cuddled with me. I just kept telling myself it will be better at home. 

The level, are you tired of hearing about levels? I know, me too. The bilirubin went WAY down by Monday night! Enough for us to go home! The doctor told us we needed to check her again in 2 days to make sure it keeps decreasing. I asked what happens if the bilirubin goes back up, and he said "oh that like never happens, well it shouldn't." We were so happy to go home! 

Not Again! 

Wednesday was Joslynne's birthday. Okay, routine blood test before celebrating. No big deal, we'll just swing by the lab. We got the test done and they would call us back in an hour. We went into Salt Lake to do something fun with Jos. Then I got a call. Bilirubin went back up, she needs more phototherapy. :( What happened to, "it never goes back up!" So, we got Josy some ice cream, and told her we could celebrate together at home. She's 2, so she didn't mind. ;) Thankfully, we were able to get them home phototheratpy light this time. 

Doing phototherapy at home meant we could still hold Elaina. She just had to be a little naked baby all day with the glowing pad against her skin. :) I continued to try to breastfeed. However, I would normally try for as long as possible and resist offering her a bottle. If she's hungry enough, she'll eat right? But, since eating more equals peeing this dumb chemical out, we had to focus on getting the food in her. So, she just got more and more attached to the bottle by the hour. 

The home phototherapy went on for 2 weeks. I was so worried that her liver wasn't just kicking in to break down the bilirubin on its own. Why wasn't it just going away?? Many people who heard Elaina was jaundice just said, "oh, no big deal, just put her in front of a window!" They were just trying to help, I know. ;) I wish that was our situation. But, this was a little different because even with the light, that stinkin level was not decreasing. Oh, and yes,  our little glow worm was also by a window for light all day as well. :)

Elaina was so sweet and happy. We were loving getting to know her during her first we weeks. But, I was frustrated, worried, and just wanted to stop getting my baby poked for a blood test everyday. She was champ, by the way! I wanted to put clothes on her, take a walk with her, and focus on breastfeeding. The pediatrician wanted to keep trying the light for another week before looking into any kind of testing for issues with her liver etc. 

When Elaina was 3 weeks old, we had a birthday family party for Joslynne. We got a call during the party that her level went down enough to stop using the light! Then, we would see if it would stay down without phototherapy and test in few days! We were so relieved. And, a few days later, she was still fine! We were DONE with jaundice! 


Ok, now breastfeeding. I started to try for longer each feeding, and not so readily give her a bottle. I also went a little longer between feedings so Elaina might be hungry enough to just go for it! This kid was the laziest eater. Even with the bottle, she would barely suck. A bottle took her an hour to drink!  I should add that we checked her ability to suck, swallow, even her heart rate to make sure she had the energy to eat. It came down to Elaina just wanting to chill and let the milk flow into her mouth.  Haha! Everytime I tried to breastfeed, even though she was hungry, she would just scream and flail her little head and arms around. It would just escalate until I fed her a bottle. Yes, I know, I gave in, and she was learning she would eventually get what she wanted. But, at some point the kid has to eat, and she wouldn't give up the tantrum. Well, she eventually would, but not to eat. She would just cry herself to sleep in my arms. 

I tried breastfeeding first, fed her a bottle, then pumped for 2 months. The most I ever got her to breastfeed was 5 minutes. Finally, we gave up trying and I just pumped. My supply dried up by the time Elaina was 4 months old. I kind of felt like a failure. I kept thinking maybe I should have tried a little longer. Breastmilk is so good for babies, isn't that what she needed? Many people, including doctors, assured me that nipple confusion will totally fix itself over time. But the most encouraging thing anyone told me was, "its ok if it doesn't."  We did everything we could for our baby. We also gave breastfeeding a shot, but listened to what our family needed when it was time to give up, get us all some rest, and give both of our girls the best love and attention we could.  I pumped until I didn't have anymore milk. In the end, Elaina is healthy and fed. Being a good mom isn't doing things the same way other moms do. It's not listening to every single piece of advice that comes our way. It's not doing things just how we did with our other children. It's not even being the most natural, most modern, or most savvy mama around. Being a good mom is doing what we know our child needs at that moment. 

I look back now, and this was just a small part of her life. And she's perfect. During the unknowns, it seemed like an eternity. I feel like this is really nothing compared to many families go through. But, this is part of Elaina's story and we are so thankful for her health. We learned a lot about being a family of 4, trusting God's plan for our children, and not taking health for granted. We are beyond thankful for the sweet blessing Elaina is and couldn't imagine our lives without her!

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Baby Skin

Maybe its kind of odd to talk about baby skin and rashes, but hunting for a good solution for your babies can be agonizing. It was for me. So, I kind of wanted to shout it from the rooftops when I found skin care that worked for my sensitive babies. I don't want anyone who is searching to go through one more sad day of trial and error.

My babies have extremely sensitive skin. Like EXTREME. They break out from anything and everything. I am similar, so we know where that came from. :P It's hard when babies are so tiny and fragile and you don't know what is causing irritation! The most heart breaking thing has been diaper rashes. We try to change them as soon as we know they have a dirty diaper, but they rash within a minute or two. Like awful, makes me want to cry raw rashes. All of our friends, family, and nursery volunteers at church even know this and keep an eye out (or should I say nose) around our girls.  We've checked them out and ruled out food allergies, so at least we know its nothing serious. That's just the skin my baby girls have.

We have found some strategies to help such as cutting out citrus which is too acidic for their skin, changing immediately, finding a good diaper brand, and using cream preventatively. Our pediatrician recommended that we stop using anything on our babies' skin that includes "fragrance".

Fragrance can be any number of thousands of ingredients, and companies are not required to disclose what the fragrance is made up of. I started looking around for a clean skincare line for my babies. I also tried countless diaper creams on the hunt for one that would soothe a rash, promote healing, and not burn like crazy when I applied it. It is heart breaking to change the girls when they have a rash and the wipes or cream hurt even worse.

We finally discovered the Seedlings line from Young Living, and it has been life changing. I know there are bigger issues in life than rashes, but for a mama's heart, anything that keeps my baby healthy and happy is a hero! Here are some of my favorites...

Seedlings Wipes

I understand the alcohol in wipes is there for fast drying and to keep little bums from being wet and further skin irritation. However, the alcohol is so painful on a rash. These wipes are alcohol free and include oils that are soothing like lavender. I have found that they leave the skin dry quickly too. They smell great too! I like to use them to wipe food off faces too. Wipes with alcohol can dry out baby faces and my kid's absolutely hate it!

One of the best things about this skin care line all the other uses for the products that have nothing to do with babies! The wipes are great for minor cuts and as itch relief. My favorite is how amazing they are as makeup remover wipes!

Seedlings Diaper Rash Cream

This is crazy good! Joslynne used to scream bloody murder if we put cream on her during every single diaper change. It was so sad! We tried multiple ones. Even ones that were supposed to provide numbing and relief. Now, she asks for this cream. It is soothing, powerful, effective and doesn't sting. We keep a tube in multiple places now, and never leave the house without it.

Are you ready for this? This diaper rash cream is awesome under eye concealer! Haha, crazy, I know! I didn't believe it. Then I tried it the other day, seriously. Goodbye dark circles! ;) Also, tried this on an owie, and BAM it was so helpful!

Seedlings Baby Lotion

My babies break out even from most popular "sensitive" moisturizers. I want something gentle and actually helpful for my sweet girl's new skin.  This has been perfect for Elaina. It has worked well to prevent dry patches and we've had no breakouts! I love that it has calming oil like lavender included, so it's great to apply as part of our bedtime routine.

I use this on my sensitive skin as well! Works great after shaving too!

DIY Diaper Cream

Once the Seedlings Diaper rash cream worked so well, we don't ever want to be stuck without it. Joslynne moves things around the house like its her career, so there's always something mysteriously missing for a few days. I made a jar of diaper cream myself to have as back up and never move from the nursery. I think it will also be wonderful for prevention and help our tubes for on the go last longer. This is a new idea we just started trying, so I'll report back on how it works! Recipe below:

DIY Diaper Cream

1/2 cup coconut oil
10 drops Lavender Essential Oil
10 Drops Gentle Baby Essential Oil

My mama heart is so thankful for tools like this and the peace of mind that I'm putting safe gentle  products on my babies' little bodies.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

My #1 Mom Hack

Having children and taking care of little people's needs means life gets busier, more frequently interrupted, and there is less down time. All things we are very aware of going into motherhood, and we wouldn't have it any other way! We feel tired because our sleep becomes a secondary priority. We are less productive because we meeting needs constantly. It can be hard to get anything accomplished outside of mommying when days are unpredictable and our only real time to work on anything else is while our children are asleep or if we have a babysitter.

 If we have 2 hours max during nap time, we have to decide whether to eat, pee, rest, shower, exercise, clean, talk to a friend, or work on  our personal goals/passions. It's pretty much impossible to do all the things as it is, no wonder we feel like crying on days when our kids miss nap time.

Some babies are great sleepers, and sleep for 12 hours straight. Others are not. My children have been all over the map, and its hard to plan your day when its so unpredictable. It's hard to live for nap time, then have days where nap time never comes, or stay up late to be productive then be up all night with a baby. 

I was sleeping until my babies woke up in the morning, but then from the minute I opened my eyes, I was responding to requests and my kids were calling the shots. I felt like I was in defensive mode all day, putting out fires instead of preventing them. I would try to accomplish things in between meeting needs, and banked on nap time to do everything else. There was no way to determine how much would be accomplished that day, and everything that didn't would be pushed to the next day. So, laundry piled up, clutter got worse, and I had to stop taking art orders because I had no idea when they would get done. I would be in PJ's until 3 and I would forget to eat until I was already crashing.  I also started feeling frustrated when my kids needed me, because I was desperate for some solid productive time.

We have been working on several things and setting up routines to help. But, the one thing that has made the biggest difference is waking up before my children. Very early, like 4 am. I know, it's crazy. But it has been life changing, and I actually feel less tired than I did before!

The Benefits

It's quiet

I absolutely love spending time with my children, but we don't get to clock out of motherhood. I have found that need alone time to recharge and think complete thoughts. Mornings before my kids wake up are sacred alone time, and no one interrupts my train of the thought!

Time to actually wake up

When my kids are my alarm clock, I have to jump out of bed and start getting milk, changing diapers, and reading stories immediately. It's hard to enjoy these things when you're groggy. I feel like my ears need to wake up before I'm ready to listen to all the vivid stories, fulfill requests, and have answers life's toughest questions. ;)

Self Care

It's so hard to make time to take care of ourselves with babies. In the early mornings, I can actually go to the bathroom, drink water, take vitamins, get out of my pajamas, and shower. It allows me to make these things a habit instead of just doing them as time allows.

Get the house ready for little hands

So often, I feel like messes in our home are a result of non toy items being accessible to the girls. Before they wake up, I do a sweep through and move anything that we left out the night before that is not for them to play with.


Alone time in the morning allows me to make a to do list, prioritize the day, and have our routine set up. It's so much easier to keep the day from getting chaotic if I have an idea of what needs to be accomplished and a game plan of attack. This helps me actually get out with the girls, or have an activity set up for them to keep them occupied instead of just making messes out of boredom.

A morning routine helps everything run more smoothly. Having a routine was difficult when I was getting up at different times everyday. I was also just fulfilling requests as they came instead of setting up expectations for the girls in the mornings.

Uninterrupted Productivity

The amount of things that can be accomplished in an hour of uninterrupted time seems like 2 days of work when the kids are awake. I can make goals, blog, and take Etsy orders when I know I will have a block time to finish them!


What I eat first thing in the morning sets the tone for how I will eat all day. When there is no time, I just eat whatever I can grab. That usually isn't the healthiest option. But, when I have time to make myself breakfast, I start out with protein and actually nourishing food that will sustain me instead of have me crashing or still hungry all day.

Positive Start

If I have time before anything else to read my Bible, take care of my body, and accomplish one big thing, it doesn't matter if the rest of the day is chaos. I already did the priorities, and my focus can just be my little ones.

Be an Individual

The uninterrupted productive time allows me to have goals and passions of my own outside of being a mom. I have ideas all the time and dream about them through out the day and at night. It's so discouraging when it seems like they will never be possible because each day only allows for diaper changes, feeding, and chores.  I love having the ability to make my passions and ideas come to life. That is one of the biggest motivations to miss out on sleep and get out of bed early in the morning!


One of the reasons I wake up so early and not just an hour earlier, is to make time for exercise. It just never becomes a priority if I wait until I have free time to go to the gym. I don't go everyday, but working out is fun for me and I feel much more energized when I do it! Exercise can easily become one of those things you beat yourself up about if you miss a day or do out of guilt. Having a chance to do it early in the day helps me do it for its benefits and not out of obligation.

Not living for Nap Time

I don't want to live my days waiting for my babies to go to sleep so I could have some alone time. I want to enjoy them and not view them as an interruption.

My Routine

4-4:30 Read my Bible
4:30- 5 Straighten up the house
5-5:30 Get ready
5:30- 6:30 Exercise, Chores, Art, or Blogging. Depending on the day or what needs to be done!
6:30-7 Eat breakfast and make lunch for Wes

Helpful Tips

What if I'm too Tired?

To be honest, I don't usually wake up early when I'm sick, if I've had a super late night, or if my baby was up all night. I do try to stick with it as much as possible, because I'd rather take a nap when my kids nap later than forfeit this time alone. For me, alone time is more important than sleep. Everyone is different. If you are having anxiety or frustration during the day because you can't get anything done, this might be worth it to you!

If you really thrive with a good amount of sleep, even waking up early a couple times a week will give you the benefits without forfeiting too much sleep! I didn't do wake up so early when I had a newborn, because obviously its survival mode in those days! I started waking up early when Elaina at least had a habit down of waking up at the same times and same amount of times most nights.

Going to bed Early

The best way for me to get enough sleep is to go to bed between 8:30 and 9 pm. I will say this is a struggle because I like to have time with Wes and to unwind when the kids go to sleep. But, you can't burn the candle at both ends, so we try to put the kids to bed as early as possible, and save binge watching shows for the weekends. ;)

Give it a try

It took me waking up early for about 2 weeks consistently to really get a feel for what time worked, what I wanted to do with the time, and if it was worth it. So, if you're curious, give yourself a couple weeks to see how it goes! I also woke up at 5:30 the first few days since I was used to waking up at 6:30-7 and didn't want to just crash. The alone time was so great, I just kept waking up earlier for more! :)

Plan what you want to do

I decide the night before, or first thing when I wake up how I want to use the time. The same rules apply as any prioritizing, but I decide what's most important to ensure those things are done before the kids wake up. Also, I try to do things that I can't do, or are tricky accomplish while the kids are awake! ;)

To Get Going

I'm not a coffee person, but I have some favorite things I do when I first wake up to get going! I drink water with a drop of Citrus Fresh Vitality or Thieves Vitality right away.

Citrus Fresh is a blend of Orange, Lemon, Tangerine, and Spearmint. It tastes great and wakes me up!
It's a good way to start my digestion and metabolism off right for the day. 

Thieves Vitality
Thieves is my go-to for staying healthy during cold and flu season or if there's a bug going around! It's a Christmasy spice blend with citrus and powerful immune system booster!

If I wake up with tension or morning stiffness, I love rolling Panaway on my neck and shoulders. Especially if my kids have ended up in the bed! This is great for muscle relief! It feels and smells like an icy hot patch.

All 3 of these are in the Young Living Starter Kit!

Photos by Misty D. Photography

My #1 practical tip for my life is to wake up at 4 AM. Well, you pick the time, but wake up before your children. Out of every practical, organization or time managment strategy I've tried as a mom, this has been the most impactful!  I love being ready to be the best mama for my kiddos when they wake up!