Sunday, January 31, 2010

Physical Therapy for Mommas

I've come upon a of new-to-me resource I want to pass on to all my mom readers. I'm really excited to discover a physical therapist with a women's health specialty. Even my smallish rural hospital has a couple of women with this expertise. They are trained to help women with our unique physical challenges that can stem from simply being female. For example, if a woman is having a lot of lower back pain during pregnancy, a physical therapist like I described can help her ease her pain and hopefully keep it at bay. I love this!

Of course, I'm really loving the whole idea of physical therapy right now, as I'm benefiting from my treatments greatly! I have what I've described as "Mommy Neck and Shoulders" where my neck and shoulders are so tight, my nerves are getting compressed. PT has really done wonders, much to my surprise. I thought I was going to have to have surgery for my carpal tunnel like symptoms.

Something that really helped me was to read a sign on the PT room wall. It ready, "You don't have to live with pain." I have been living with lower back pain just because I thought I had to. I thought it was just weak abs from having a second Cesarean. I was already benefiting from the therapy on my neck and shoulders, so why fix that only to live with lower back pain? I mentioned it to my PT and we are going to address it as soon as my neck is healed. I'm so excited!

I know, I'm a little bit of a nerd, but so what? I am so blessed that PT is solving my hand issues, and quickly, too! I'm also blessed that my PT doctor says a massage or two would help me, too! I've had one so far (my first ever!) and there's not much better than a 45 minute deep tissue massage ordered by my doctor! No guilt!

Seriously, if you are a momma in pain, don't live with it. There's no reason to! You don't deserve it, even if it's a result of bad habits (mine is probably from carrying babies on my hip and having poor posture). There's no time like now to tackle those habits and the pain.

Besides, there might be a massage in it for you, too-and even if there's not, at least PT time means an hour or so out of the house sans children! I just pretend it's a spa treatment (where I have to work a bit, but hey, it's better than changing diapers)!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

"I want to live like I was 70 yesterday...

and God gave me a chance to live all my younger days..."

The lyrics to a GS Megaphone song go something like that. It's inspirational for me. Even more inspirational is seeing it done in real life. At my doula training, our ages came up. One of the women was 57 and she soon learned she wasn't the only one nearing her sixth decade-one other trainee and our trainer were all about the same age.

It's one thing for a woman well established in  her career, like our trainer, to be mature and still learning, but how about someone becoming a doula at age 57? Isn't that great?

I know there are challenges. I was whining at the training about needing to sift through all my breastfeeding knowledge to sort out what's dated and what's valid. My more mature friends have years worth of information to sort through! The key is they aren't hindered by it; they keep plugging away anyway!

I want to keep learning until I'm six feet under. I want to instill that love for learning into my children. That's one reason we love Sonlight. We also try to live a life of discovery as a family, always sharing what we're learning, especially about science since we have a science geek daddy in the house! We take the time to explain things to our kids. Just today Bethany and I were driving through new road contruction and we talked about what the workers were doing with all the rocks they were digging up and why they couldn't just leave them in the ground.

What's out there you want to do before you're "too old" (whatever that means)? Well, hop to it, friend!

Monday, January 25, 2010

When God is Silent

Last year at this time God let me down. Big time. Is it okay to say that without fear of a lightening strike? I believe so, but I've been tempted to save face for God's sake. Of course, he doesn't really need my help with his public relations, so I'm just going to be real about it.

In my last post, I talked about asking God for help. There are times when he doesn't help like we want him to. Last year we had (like we usually do) several pieces of property in which we must pay taxes on. I knew the tax money was not in our budget. I prayed. I know God clothes the lily of the valley, and he knows if one sparrow falls. He wants us to give unto Caesar what is Caesar's so I knew he wanted us to pay the taxes. No brainer, just trust God, right? Well, I did. I knew worry wouldn't make money appear in my bank account and that we'd spent wisely yet still didn't have the necessary funds due at the end of January. So, I fully expected God to come through by January 31st.

Well, he didn't. And it hurt.

I was confused. My pride was hurt. I didn't want to pay penalties. Perfectionists don't pay penalties.

Okay, it's not like we were getting hauled to tax court or anything, and when we got or income tax refund, we paid them all in full, no problem. But what about my faith? Where was God?

I've felt let down all year. I read scripture about God rescuing his people, about him providing and something in my heart said, "Yeah, but not for us, not for my family...He's forgotten us (remember we've had land on the market for over a year...when it sells our lives will be perfect, ya know)."

Yet I learned last week that God was silent for over 400 years in the Old Testament. The silence of God is an age old question, not just something I alone have felt (which is what the devil would like me to believe).

We can hold fast to his promises that he will never leave us or forsake us, even if we don't feel like he's with us, he says he is. He does not change. He's the same God if he's speaking to us or not. Someone giving me wise counsel said to me, "Wendy, Satan may have wanted to mess with you and God said, 'Go ahead, take her out and play with her a while, she'll still be mine when you're done.'"

Well, now, that sounds like a challenge to me! A challenge is always the way to motivate me! I am challenged to be God's girl no matter what games Satan is trying to play with me. I want to be known as the woman who still stood firm in her knowledge of Who's she is.

Guess who's budget doesn't have enough funds for taxes this January? Satan vs Wendy, round two!

It's okay, we know Who's side wins in the end, don't we!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Doula Wendy

So, I thought I'd let you know where I am today. I'm not home...I'm not even typing this today, I've typed it up ahead of time so you won't start bugging me with being on Facebook too much instead of blogging! I'm not even on Facebook...I'm being trained as a doula!

This Thursday, Friday and Saturday is the training required for doula certification through DONA International. I can't believe this week is finally here! I'd like to share how it came to be.

Last summer, I realized I am now in a season of life where I can become a doula, or professional childbirth assistant. My youngest child is our last child and she's old enough to do without me for longer stretches of time. Shane's job has changed to have much better hours and my oldest girls can help watch the younger ones for a short while if a sitter isn't available right away. We could also use the money and birth is a passion of mine.

So I started checking into training, but they were all in south Texas. The trainings cost about $350,  plus travel expenses...then what would I do with Audrey, who is still nursing? Leave her for four days and hope my milk supply lasted? Take my whole family to stay in the hotel so I can have access to her? There was no solution.

I prayed and prayed for a solution.

Finally I had the idea (not of my origin, I assure you) to call trainers in the Dallas area to see if they'd conduct a training. There are two and one of them said she would be glad to! Not only that, but that holding it nearer to my home might even allow women from Oklahoma to attend. The trainer (who is also a believer) asked me to be the "hostess" in which I do most of the footwork for it in exchange for free tuition! My heart was jumping for joy when she asked that! God did indeed provide. I am certain that as you read this, He is providing even more blessings-top notch training and the initiation of potentially long term friendships with other trainees. Isn't he good?

Next time you think you have a problem too big to solve, ask him for help! He's your number one fan after all!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Everyone's got something...

Have you heard the great new song, "Perfect People"? There's no such thing as perfect people... the lyrics go.

I read not long ago on anther blog that everyone has one area they don't have together (I'd add that it's at least one!). If every time you visit their home it's perfectly clean and tidy, you can guess their bedroom is a mess or their checkbook isn't balanced. We, of course, like to assume if their home looks good, their entire lives must be perfect and we, by comparison, must be failures.

I think this can be especially true for homeschooling moms. We have to constantly fight the idea that all the other homeschool moms have it together and we're the only one with messy houses, rebellious kids, and stacks of unused curriculum.

Are you ready for some freedom? I am personally realizing I've been believing a lot of lies. I believe this year may be my year to seek out what those lies are and expose them to the light of day. It promises to be an exciting journey!

In December, as I was thinking of Mary and Joseph and the baby Messiah, it occurred to me that Mary and Joseph should have been the perfect parents. I mean, think of the pressure to raise the world's redeemer! The Perfect One! Yet, God purposefully chose to place his gift to the world into a sinful family.

I can assume Mary may have raised her voice. She may have become impatient. Maybe she showed favoritism (and who wouldn't hold up their sinless child as their favorite!). Joseph may have been harsh, or too soft. He may have struggled to be the spiritual leader in their home. Can you imagine being the spiritual leader to the Christ? Whatever the struggles Mary and Joseph faced, we can know God was not surprised by them. He knew their weaknesses and sinful appetities before they were formed. And he chose them anyway. He chose them to parent his Holy Son.

Just like he's chosen you to fit into your family. The husband you're supposed to be married to is the one you are currently married to, and the children you have were chosen for you. The circumstances of your life are not an accident, nor are they so unique that God can't give you victory over the challenges.

Pray God will open your eyes to truth, exposing the lies your hearts been suckered into living by. These are often subtle, but once exposed are actually quite alarming! I pray as you walk in truth, the weight of the lies will fall from your shoulders. It is for freedom He set us free!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Mentoring in Modern Times

For most of my life, I've had a mentor. A Titus 2 woman is what we call it in Christian circles. As a teen, I worked in the school library one period my junior and senior year and Mrs. A listened to my drama. I'm sure  she prayed for me many, many times. She was so wise and gracious. I'll never forget her tenderness to me.

During my college days, my intern supervisor coached me in marriage, parenting, and spiritual matters. We're still close friends today, although she claims I mentor her as much as she does me. I'm not so sure I agree...

At this moment, I don't have an intense mentoring relationship. I have an accountability group and lots of friends who support me, but no older woman really mentoring me. I was recently talking to a friend about this and we lamented that it's simply hard to find a mentor these days. Although it's not easy, it is worth the search. All those resolutions you made last week? A mentor would be a great person to help you walk those out. The benefits of a mentor are too numerous to list, but one thing is for sure, she'll change your life! It's a beautiful thing, don't miss out on this important relationship in your life.

I prayed about finding a mentor for this current season and one woman did come to mind, and I believe I could do more thinking and come up with a few more I could approach. If God wants you to be under another woman's guidance, I know he'll supply you with the perfect match. However, I think we can supplement that with some good, online influences. I have been reading Tomato Soup Cake for a couple of years now and I'm drawn back time and again because of this momma's gentle and wise ways. Grab a cup of tea and plan to spend some quiet moments soaking in her sweetness. She's in love with the Lord and it shows. Her parenting is kind and firm, and she lives a life of uniqueness. She's not concerned with living as the culture says, but as God has outlined for her. I know you'll love her!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Herbalism Part Four

In the final post to this series, I want to share what I've done to treat my family as we've passed around a respiratory virus. Remember my disclaimer: I am not a medical professional or herbal expert. These are just my first attempts to treat my family (as opposed to just myself) with some herbal remedies I've found through research. You need to do your own research to decide what's best for your family.I apologize for the length of this post, I have a big family, you know! I have outlined the topics in bold so you can easily scan it if you wish.
Symptoms: We seem to have a virus that causes a lot of chest congestion, then nasal congestion and as a result, a sore throat. Some of the girls ran a little fever as well.
First, my first "formal" lesson in using herbs came from a DVD from the Bulk Herb Store called Making Herbs Simple (Thanks Alisha for the loan!). It introduces tinctures (herbs in a liquified form), poultices (remember these are herbs wrapped in a warm, wet cloth applied to the skin). It also does a great job telling you where to find wild herbs and how to make your own tinctures, teas & poultices. It is simple, but there's a lot of information to take in if you're green like me. Their website has a lot of free information as well as an online catalog of herbs to buy.

The ABC Herbal by Steven Horne, found on the Bulk Herb Store and Amazon, was the most helpful this time around. I also read Herbal Antibiotics by Stephen Harrod Buhner (found in the same places).

Here's what I did as soon as Audrey started getting sick--although Ashlyn & Hope had started getting a little congested, I trust Ashlyn to tell me what level of uncomfortableness she can tolerate and well, Hope is always congested, no matter what we do! Once Audrey started getting sick, I got to work.

 Diet changes for sick ones: No dairy, sugar, and limited heavy foods. Lots of water and caffeine free, honey sweetened tea is pushed. Rest.

Since babies can't be given OTC cold meds, this was a perfect time to test out some suggestions in the ABC Herbal book. I had to adapt Horne's instructions (as he give a blessing to) because I live in a small town with only a little health food store and I have a little budget. I started with a commercially made Echinacea and Goldenroot tincture to head off sinus or other infections. For those who had chest congestion, I also gave Horehound Blend. Chamomile tea was in order for the whole house (the reasons why are in the book, I won't go into that here). I rubbed Vick's on the soles of their feet and put socks on them. I have no idea if this helps, but it can't hurt and it gives me a chance to sit one on one with each sick child and give them some TLC. Another massage I give that I believe does work comes from the ABC Herbal-a rub down with fresh, crushed garlic diluted in olive or another stable oil (at least a 1:5 ratio, as garlic can burn the skin). I started on their back and rubbed around to their chest, or if they were resistant, I just rubbed the chest. I did this two or three times a day. Audrey got breast milk drops in her ear to stave off an ear infection. Dr. Mercola's site suggests this. The herbal books say garlic in some oil works too. I did both at different times with great success, as she didn't show any signs of infection.

For Shane, we did the Vick's and a garlic rub before he went to bed late one night after work. Then when he was off in the evening and resting at home, I put a garlic poultice on his chest. You seriously have to be careful with this, as it indeed did start to irritate his skin. To help rest and calm his cough, Shane used my not-so-herbal remedy, a few swigs from my quart jar of Hot Toddy mix. It's about a cup or so of honey with lemon slices and some fresh lemon squeezed in, simmered for a while. Once it's been a while (how ya like this recipe?!), I pour it into a glass quart jar and then add an equal portion of whiskey. The kids have not taken this, but depending on how bad they felt, I might consider pulling it out for one of the bigger girls.

For Shane, I think I would have had more success in treating him if I'd also had some Echinacea for him. Honestly, I'd only bought it for the kids and he didn't tell me if he wanted me to go back for more for him, so I just didn't. He has also been taking some OTC meds, but he's still feeling rough. He says his cough is better and from the outside he seems better, but he says he's still feeling pretty worn out.

Lymph Node Issues:
I found an interesting recipe for Hope I want to tell you about before closing this out. Hope is tiny, and her lymph nodes are easy to feel. I'm not sure if it's that alone, but she seems to also have an (over?) active lymph system. Her lymph nodes swell a lot and we do lots of massage and she regularly takes an herbal capsule of a liver cleansing blend. However, to keep her lymph nodes from swelling up while she was fighting this, I found a suggestion in ABC Herbal. It had a whole list of essential oils that the author uses that I can't afford, so I just bought what I could find/afford and hoped for the best. I won't go into all the author uses, but I bought tea tree oil, lemon, and lavender essential oils and diluted them in my oil (I use grape seed oil, but olive would work). I massaged these into the lymph nodes around Hope's neck and they never did get large!

The results-
Ashlyn who refused everything but the tea is still coughing but feels fine. She took some Mucinex and Tylenol in the beginning. Hers has lasted longer than her sisters. Just a note-She's 12 and if it's not a serious health issue, I'm going to let her call the shots on taking meds. It wouldn't have been appropriate for me to give her a garlic massage anyway, but I offered to rub her back and show her how to rub it into her chest. I will, however, not let her complain if she refuses treatment!
Hope, Bethany, and Audrey-they had the shortest duration, especially Beth & Aud. You'd hardly know they were sick. Hope is a challenge because she struggles year round with a lot of allergies, so congestion is currently part of her daily life (even on daily Zyrtec).
Jaika-She's the latest one to get sick. She's my hearty girl who's never been on antibiotics. She's had one day of moderate congestion, she sucks down the tea (which isn't the strongest weapon I've got, but it's what she likes) and she rebels against the garlic massages. I've rubbed her down twice as of this writing (I write these posts on the weekend to be posted the next week, today is actually Sat Jan 9th) and she's perky, eating, drinking normally with a slight congested sound and occasional cough.
Shane-he's not doing well, but he's not resting enough either. He's probably still consuming dairy...but he's an adult...
Me-well, I got it first and took Mucinex because I hadn't read any of my books yet! I would say my recovery was a little longer than Bethany and Audrey's.  

After books (which are all about $10 or less), I spent $50 at the health food store for chamomile tea, the tinctures and essential oils. I later sent Shane to the store for more lemons to make more Hot Toddy mixture, as I already had honey & whiskey. Today he made one more trip for more lemons, more chamomile tea bags, and more whiskey. I don't know what that cost. I'd guess in all, it was under $75, maybe $100 if you count the large honey I buy at Costco (I know raw is better, but I have a budget you know!) and the first bottle of whiskey. Also, I really should have bought echinacea and or elderberry in a form for us adults, and I probably could have used more of the commerically made tinctures as I ran out before Jaika really got it (I'd been giving her just the echinacea one).

The cost is probably close to what I'd pay if I took a couple of the kids to the doctor and picked up prescriptions for all of them.

Side effects: None except the skin irritation from the garlic, which we were prepared for. Also, I felt sorry for Hope, as she was going to bed really stuffy and miserable so I gave her some Zyrtec and Children's Sudafed. She broke out a few hours later-when I examined the label, I realized the Sudafed contains a decongestant she's taken before, and she broke out then, too. Sensitive little liver she has!

Closing Thoughts:
It felt really good to help my children heal with my hands massaging them. I know it sounds New Age-ish but I assure you I simply mean it was a very satisfactory feeling to know I was helping their little bodies heal. And just so you know, if need be, we would have seen our doctor. I think you can see we use both conventional and herbal medicine together.

However, I also rely on the Great Physician. I prayed for my sick children and I prayed for wisdom in treating them. On my way to the health food store, I prayed for discernment knowing I'd soon  be surveying shelves of pills, teas, and such calling my name. I prayed for help staying in our budget. God is good and has answered my prayers. I am pleased with my first full blown herbal experience!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Herbalism Part Three

Let's stop and consider our own perceptions around the use of herbs. I hesitated about even posting on this subject and when I asked my mom if I could find cheese cloth at Wal-Mart, I didn't want to tell her it was to make a poultice (a warm, wet cloth used to hold herbs so they can absorb into the skin). Heck, I don't even want to use the words "tincture" or "poultice", they're such strange words! As I referenced in my first post on this topic, I don't even like the phrase "herbal remedy" because some people might think it sounds a little backwoods-ish.

My aunt has described me as granola for years and I think my friends and family are simply getting used to my strange ways. But why does using herbs have to be strange?

Consider the most used herb in America: coffee. Not too much is strange about that, is there?
What about garlic? My very normal parents have used garlic for years. In garlic's case, I'm guessing our culture/media has made garlic socially acceptable. Echinacea, St. John's Wart, and a few others are somewhat acceptable as well. But what about Wormwood, Sage, or Red Root? Not so much.

No one in America likes to stand out too much (okay, not most people, anyway). We don't want to be thought of as weird or eccentric. Using herbs might mean we have to don Birkenstocks, smoke weed and deliver our babies alone at home (or maybe even birth at home in Birks while smoking weed!).

Well, times are a changin' my friends! There are more "normal" looking people out there drinking raw milk, eating organic whole food, and avoiding antibiotics. These are regular moms and dads, businessmen and women, and professionals.

I challenge you to examine your reasons for raising your eye brows at herbs. Is it because our grand FDA hasn't approved them? Have you looked at the good the FDA does (note the dripping sarcasm here). Is it because science has told us there's a better solution? If you look closely, science is trying to stay a step ahead of antibiotic resistant organisms-and eventually science may have to concede. Drug resistant bacteria adapt faster than we can keep up. After reading this book (hang in there until tomorrow and I'll list my resources!), I'm wondering if the war on terror is not against bin Laden but against drug resistant bacteria!

My caveat for today-I don't own Birks nor have I ever smoked weed.

Peace Out.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Herbalism Part Duex

Okay, so Shane gave me some herbal books for Christmas. I'll list them as well as some other resources in Friday's blog post. One of my books explains how to use herbs as antibiotics. Of course, these antibiotics aren't like the ones from the pharmacy in many, many ways. Let me attempt to explain, with another caveat: I am really new at this. My natural philosophy has been in place for years, but I'm very green (pun intended!) in this area. Use my posts as a springboard into your own study and don't hold me up as any kind of expert. I'm sure someday I'll look back at these posts and laugh at how much I didn't know!

First, lets look at bacteria. Bacteria was thought to be rather unintelligent but it turns out that experiments prove they are quite smart. Bacteria can learn from other bacteria how to resist our antibiotics. They line up side by side and in a manner of speaking, blue tooth data to each other. This means that a bacteria that has never come in contact with a certain antibiotic can learn how to resist that antibiotic! MRSA is a scary example of this.

Now, our antibiotics are single component substances. Penicillin is penicillin, tetracycline is tetracycline. However, herbal substances are complex, multifaceted substances. Yarrow has 170 different medicinal components in it. This reminds me of breast milk and it's scores of helpful properties. God knew what he was doing! He gifted us with an amazing medicine cabinet right in nature!

Because of the complex nature of herbs, they can better treat bacteria. Bacteria can't figure out the complexities of herbs like they can simple antibiotics. As scientists start to put all this together, the author of this particular book feels the end of the antibiotic era will come. Scientists are already attempting to mimic nature by combining drugs to make them more complex, but this complexity is still a far cry from herbs.

We all have been warned to be careful with our antibiotic use. We are possibly entering a precocious time, medically speaking. It behooves us to build up our arsenals with a variety of weapons against disease, and I believe herbs need to play an important part in that arsenal. Quality foods, exercise, pure water and rest are others.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Herbalism Part One

I think I'll dedicate this week's blogging to using herbs for medicinal purposes (that sounds so much more dignified than the backwoods sounding "herbal remedies"). I will give you my own background in herbal uses, then talk about what I'm currently learning about conventional medicine (aka pharmaceuticals), and finally I'll outline the herbs I'm using right now to treat my family of a respiratory virus. If you're not into all this, just check back next week and maybe I'll be on a different topic by then!

How I became an herbalist
Okay, so I'm not an herbalist, not by a long shot...but I've dabbled in it for a while. I've been interested in health in general and vitamins and nutrition specifically since high school. I borrowed a vitamin book from my grandma and annoyed everyone with condemning health facts the rest of my senior year. I hope I've become less abrasive about health issues since then!

About ten years ago, I started learning about whole foods. I guess the natural next step is to use food and herbs as medicine. I've experimented with my own illnesses and mild health issues my family has faced.

Specifically, I've treated my chronic urinary tract infections with cranberry capsules and later, pure cranberry juice (we're not talking sweetened Ocean Spray, here folks!). I've successfully treated UTIs with loads of nettle tea and real cranberry juice.

During pregnancy and postpartum times, I've taken Evening Primrose Oil (used for a variety of reasons) and Raspberry Leaf Tea to tone the uterus.

When I needed my milk supply increased, Fenugreek capsules or tea have been my favorite tools.

As I've learned more about herbs, I've stepped further and further away from running to the doctor for antibiotics. When I've had a sinus infection, I waited it out. I've waited until I knew my kids really needed it to get them antibiotics. As a matter of fact, two of my children have never needed any (but Ashlyn's made up for it with lots of ear infections as a baby!).

Although it's not herbal, Doctor Mercola suggests using breastmilk to treat ear infections. And why not give it a try? Even mainstream medical professionals are now telling us antibiotics may not help against most ear infections. Actually, we're now being told that most of the time, the ears will heal up on their own if left alone. This explains how our grandmothers "cured" ear infections with warm mineral oil. 

I'll end this post here and pick up on this topic Wednesday. We'll look at the eye opening facts on the current state of antibiotic usage.

Before I go, two caveats:
One, we have, and will continue to use mainstream medicine. We all have real, live doctors we see somewhat regularly. We've had a child have her tonsils removed, we're treating another child with eczema with both prescription drugs and herbs. I've had all my children in a hospital, although if circumstances allowed, I would have used a birthing center. Our doctors all work with us to find good solutions, usually seeking natural cures first. You may be surprised to hear that all our doctors are traditional, mainstream doctors.

Two-the FDA doesn't regulate herbal medicine. I am not a doctor and have no medical training. You need to research herbal remedies yourself before you utilize them.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Survival Mode

I think it must be a tradition for my crew to start off a new year with illness. This isn't the first year we've experienced winter colds in January. I suspect it has more to do with sugar overload and sleep deprivation than anything else...but what do you do? Even trying to limit sugar in December is a full time job.

In spite of the coughing, we're trying to get school done anyway. We'll be glad we pushed though come June. However, we're in survival mode here. Proof: my tree is still up. My dead live tree that is so dried out the needles are petrifying. The lights are still hanging outside. All the other decor is put away but I can't do the tree alone and my hubby won't be home to help until this we work around it. Try to ignore it.

What I find is the quickest way to getting the house in some sort of order is to keep the kitchen clean. When everyone's sick and the housework piles up, having a clean(ish) kitchen is is lifesaver. Nothing is more defeating than realizing you have to wash silverware before you can serve the cereal you just poured milk into, especially if those cereal bowls are crammed onto the table with everyone's junk they just set down and leave behind. I might know this from experience. Lots of it, possibly.

No matter what the circumstances, when life starts to spin out of control, clean your kitchen and make sure your pantry is stocked. It just makes life feel more tolerable. Fly Lady says to always go to bed with a shiny sink and you'll wake up feeling on top of things. I so agree.  Even when  life isn't crazy, getting the kitchen behind you on your cleaning day can help you feel the rest of the day is a breeze.

Test this out and tell me if I'm wrong. It just feels good to have a clean kitchen.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

After Christmas sales

I know many of you have just packed the Christmas stuff  away but it's time to start planning for Christmas 2010. Trust me, you'll thank me in about 330 days from now.

First think of what you overheard and saw this Christmas. Who got the start of a collection this year? Who got a perfect gift that you can add to next Christmas? Who really enjoyed the board game at the big family get together and would like to own it, too? It's time to make notes. No, you won't remember later, so write it down in your control journal if you're a Fly Lady fan. Were there gift ideas you had but didn't get to fulfill? You now have an entire year to finish that project or hunt down that hard to find gift.

Make a plan. You know there are certain people you'll buy for every single year. Start buying for them now. If you only bought one gift a month, think how far ahead you'll be by Thanksgiving. I keep a gift idea list on my computer and recently I've started keeping track of gifts on my account. Keep it in a place the recipients won't find it but where you won't lose it!

Regarding all that Christmas stuff you buy each year, this is the time of year to get it! Cards, paper goods, wrapping supplies, lights, ornaments and so on are super cheap right now. Shane and I bought our ornaments for next year's ornament exchange along with several Christmas themed gifts tonight-at 75% off. Last year I bought icecicle lights for $1.50 a box after Christmas. Christmas trees are also a steal right now. One word of caution-learn what you really need. Don't buy things you don't need just because they are on sale! That defeats the purpose of saving money!

Put it away wisely. I have a drawer full of gifts that I buy all year long. When I buy Christmas decor, I put it with my Christmas supplies, not in some closet where I won't find it until the spring after I need it. I have started keeping a small Christmas box in our bedroom for those random Christmas items I missed when I put it all away, as well as anything else Christmas themed that might come in during the year. I keep our Santa hats in it since we often need them for pictures before the decorations come out (this probably doesn't apply to you unless you are on the pregnancy center board of directors like Shane, where they usually take their Christmas card picture in November, but maybe there's something you often need before the rest of the stuff comes out, like Advent candles...).

Christmas 2010 really will be here before we know it, so spend a little time now preparing for it and you will thank me in November-it's just around the corner!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

2010 Goals

Well, you know if anyone talks about goals, it's going to be me, and well, since everyone is talking about resolutions right now, I have to join in! If you are anti-resolution, just do what my husband does and grunt when asked about resolutions or if you need a good one to get people like me off your back, you could always make it a resolution to not get scurvy this year.

However, if you are like me and actually like goals, then let's talk!

My goals for 2009 were mostly met. I did start eating sugar again moderately in October. I am happy with 9 months of almost no sugar. I am also pleased that I tried new things in 2009-but I know I'll always need to challenge myself to get out of my comfort zone and fight my fear of failure, so that challenge still stands.

I'm making another drastic goal similar to the no sugar goal of '09. I plan to exercise regularly all year long. I have an accountability group in place (the same group as the sugar challenge group). Yeah, this is way hard for me. I can do it for a little while but it doesn't take much to get me off track. I start tomorrow!

I would also like to craft more with my kids and by myself and I'm going to be learning a lot more about the power of herbs to help us be healthy.

Finally, I'm going to invest more in alone time with my man. Dates, reading together, whatever...but this is our 15th year (we'll celebrate our anniversary in June) and I want to keep the fire stoked, ya know?

Want to share your goals? Or your tips for a scurvy free year?

Friday, January 1, 2010

Why I don't take my kids to Wal-Mart

Some of you already think I'm too overprotective. That discussion is for another post, but for those of you who believe that about me, this will only add fuel to your fire. That's okay with me, so let's just move on. :)

For some time now, most of my grocery shopping trips are solo. It started because one of my children was especially bad about begging and whining for things, so I banned her. Then I realized it was pretty nice to just take the baby and go alone. Last year I even went a few times with  my mp3 player so even in the crowd, I was in my own little world. Now I plan my trips for nap time and don't even take the baby!

Since that time, I've solidified my reasoning for going it alone each week. Here are my main reasons in no certain order:
  • I don't even like Wal-Mart. Somehow by keeping my family out of there, I feel I'm sticking it to the man.
  • In a small town, when you're sick and bored, it seems to be the trend to go to Wal-Mart. I ran into a friend today cooling his feverish head with the biscuits he was about to buy. He said he has pnemonia. Nice. Also, everyone who runs in for their antibiotics also picks up milk and bread. Then I get their cart when they're done.
  • I am a serious shopper. I walk fast, keep my eyes down and have a list. I have a system. "Get off the cart",  "Stop dragging your feet" and "Get out from under that clothes rack" are not sentences that fit into my system.
  • I spend less without little helpers telling me all the things we "need". 
  • It's a sick kind of quiet time for harried moms. I admit it's not ideal but hey, I'll take what I can get.
  • I buy clearance items for birthday and Christmas gifts, so I don't need any potential recipients with me. 
  • Every once in a while, I like to take it slow and wander through the crafts or holiday aisle. Wandering and kids don't mix well. 
  • I hate Cosmo and Redbook and the like and I don't need my little readers practicing their new skills as I'm loading up the conveyor belt. Our WalMart doesn't have those handy magazine holders that cover all but the titles and there are no magazine free check out lanes. 
  • And one of the best is too true. 
There you have it.  Overprotective? Maybe. But how else would I get such an adventurous retreat each week? :)