Time At Home

I recently spent a full Saturday morning grocery shopping and cooking all the meat we would eat that week. I love taking care of business and being productive at home. I bought 10 pounds of chicken breasts and cooked all of them for quesadillas, stir fry, and soup; I also bought 7 pounds of bananas to peel and freeze for smoothies. I had to clean out our freezer to store the bananas, and ran across some meat that had been gifted to us a questionable amount of years ago. Instead of pitching it in the trash, I decided to cook all of it to re-store for our cat.  At one point I had the smell of chicken, goat (another story), and bacon all cooking at the same time. I actually hate cooking meat, so somehow getting it all done at one time feels better than waiting and cooking it throughout the week.

As I was cooking (and feeling really good about my productivity) this nagging, nasty, little voice kept sneaking into my mind trying to tell me I was wasting time and being selfish–that somehow spending the entire morning in my own kitchen cooking for my family was selfish. I was reminded of how the devil will use anything to kill my joy; it may be something someone said or something I’ve read that’s burrowed deep into my soul creating doubt.

Sometimes it’s hard to know the difference between conviction from the Lord and lies from the devil. However, Jesus told us, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) Life becomes complicated when we forget what and who we should be focusing on. The bible says in Proverbs, “Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.  Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.” (Proverbs 4:25-27)

When we’re distracted from our work set before us each day, whether the distraction is good or bad, we’re not living with joy or accepting the abundance that the Lord is offering to us. My particular purpose that morning was to cook food for my family, and even the simplest chore can be done with purpose when we do it out of love.

Another translation of the bible says “give careful thought to the path” instead of “ponder the path”. When we’ve given careful thought and prayer to the path we’re on and know it’s where we’re meant to be, we can fight the doubts when they come along. It’s so easy to become dissatisfied with the path the Lord has placed us on and the blessings he has given us when we look to the left or the right away from God for our guidance. Why is it so easy to doubt and criticize ourselves? Whether we’re spending our entire days at home changing diapers and wiping noses, waking early to go to work, or living as missionaries in another country, we are on a path that has been set before us, and we can walk with confidence if we keep looking directly forward, doing our work for the Lord.

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17)

Red Raspberry Leaf Tea

Drinking red raspberry leaf tea is one of the remedies recommended by my midwife during my third pregnancy, and I was hooked after my first cup. Red Raspberry leaf tea is rich in nutrients and antioxidants and is used to strengthen the uterus.  A stronger uterus can help shorten labor and aid in a healthy delivery and postpartum recovery. Because red raspberry leaf tea may help induce labor, it’s recommended you don’t drink it until week 32*. In the last few weeks of pregnancy, up to 3 cups can be enjoyed each day. It’s something I look forward to each pregnancy! (*always check with your doctor or midwife before trying any natural or herbal remedies as their potency can be surprisingly strong.)

This tea tastes good hot or iced, with lemon or without. I always buy my loose leaf tea at our local health food store where I scoop and measure it myself. Here’s the “recipe”, as simple as can be!

Red Raspberry Leaf Tea Recipe

1 Tablespoon loose leaf red raspberry leaf tea + 1 cup boiling water

steep 15 minutes

drink warm or pour the 1 cup of warm tea over ice and add enough water to fill a large glass

During the last few weeks of pregnancy I like to double or triple this recipe (2-3 Tbs. tea + 1 cup boiling water). After steeping 15 minutes, pour the warm tea over ice in a water bottle and fill to the top with cold water, leaving the tea ball in the water bottle. I’m counting down the weeks to when I can enjoy this tea again!

7 Ways to Ease Morning Sickness

I think all women who have ever experienced morning sickness would agree that whoever named the nausea of the first trimester “morning sickness” clearly never had it. I suppose confining it to a small, manageable part of the day makes it a bit less intimidating; if it were labeled “all day sickness” some of us might have been scared away from pregnancy altogether! I really struggle through the first trimester, and if I hadn’t been so determined to give our oldest daughter siblings, we would have one kid right. However, I suffered powered through, and over the course of five pregnancies I’ve picked up enough tips that by the fifth, my toilet hovering was minimal. Here are a few of my absolute must-do’s during the first trimester that have helped ease my nausea. Let me know if any of these have helped you as well, or any additions you might add to this list!

Epsom salt bath

I’m going to start with this one because it’s rarely on lists of things to do to help with morning sickness. My midwife recommended Epsom salt baths to me my third pregnancy. At the time I wasn’t sure if it was a placebo she was offering just to keep me distracted, but I decided if there was even the smallest chance it could help, I was willing to try. I normally follow the directions on the bag for the amount of salts to use; then I stay in the tub at least 20-30 minutes. I experienced less nausea on the weeks I regularly took baths in Epsom salt throughout 3 separate pregnancies. Maybe it’s coincidence that I felt better those weeks or maybe it was because of an actual magnesium deficiency, but there’s absolutely nothing to lose trying this remedy.

NEVER let yourself get hungry

This may be obvious, but it took me a long time to figure this out. The very earliest feeling that hits before the nausea of no return is hunger. For me it’s hunger so fast and so bad I don’t even realize it’s hunger, instead I assume it’s a need to throw up. When I realized this feeling began with hunger (around pregnancy number 3) I realized I could avoid the worst of the sickness by eating sooner rather than later; normally about every hour and a half. HOWEVER…

Protein is Important!

…a few crackers and ginger ale were not enough. I would eat roll after roll of ritz crackers to fend off the sickness only to hate ritz crackers and still feel empty and sick. By pregnancy number 4, I realized protein was important. Protein helps you feel full longer, and protein rich foods also provide other nutrients our bodies need during pregnancy. I ate all forms of non meat protein with my 4th, and it really seemed to help, but what I really discovered the fifth was the HUGE difference between meat protein and non meat protein. Cheese, greek yogurt, cottage cheese, vegan protein shakes, milk, and eggs all helped me feel a little better, but beef and sometimes chicken could actually make me feel “normal” and stable.

Lemon and Peppermint Everything

During my first pregnancy at one of my first appointments I asked the doctor what I could do about my incredibly oversensitive gag reflex; how was I supposed to brush my teeth if my toothbrush was always gagging me? She laughed and told me to just avoid brushing my teeth. I ended up finding a new doctor (not just because of her bad oral hygiene advice.) Nausea can at least be felt and planned around, but there’s not much you can do about an unpredictable gag reflex that acts up anytime it sees a stray hair. The gag reflex is often activated by smells. Sucking on a lemon drop or peppermint altoid (or any STRONG mint with real peppermint in the ingredients) and using lemon or peppermint essential oils (*in this necklace I was gifted a few Christmas’ ago) to smell in lieu of unpleasant odors helped me avoid many moments of being sick. I also diffuse peppermint throughout the house and add lemon juice to my drinking water.

Carbonated Water

Burping always helps my nausea–an unfortunate reality. When my go to fizzy drink was soda pop, though, I felt like I was limited because of the caffeine and sugar. Then I discovered carbonated water; any brand, any flavor does the trick. You get the satisfaction of the bubbles going down, bubbles coming up, and you can drink it all day and all evening without the consequences of too much caffeine or sugar.

Cut Sugar

Somehow milkshakes always sound good when I’m in the first trimester, but the sugar never settles well. I’ve discovered I feel much better when I avoid sugar as much as possible. About half an hour after eating protein I always feel good, but half an hour after sugar I feel worse. It’s really a win-win because keeping your blood sugar levels within a safe range is also important during pregnancy, and less sugar can help slow weight gain.

Sleep

The last tip is to get plenty of sleep. I’ve had pregnancies with young toddlers (less than 2 years old) who don’t sleep through the night, which means I don’t sleep through the night. It makes a huge difference sleeping a full 8-10 hours a night + a nap whenever possible! I know this isn’t always possible, but it helps so much it’s worth giving up anything else to get even one extra hour of sleep.

I remember spending so much time googling “ways to help nausea…” and “is it normal to….” throughout my first couple pregnancies; I felt like there had to be more help related to morning sickness. But, until there’s a magic pill to take away the constant nausea (other than the sleep inducing nausea suppositories I took during my first pregnancy) the best we can do is share tips and tricks with each other, and remember it will all be worth it in just a few short months!

*{As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Because I value honesty and transparency, I will never post links to products I do not own or fully support myself.}

Double Batch Banana Bread

I woke up today and noticed gnats in our fruit corner, and that normally means it’s time to bake something. I use my trusty 25 year old Better Homes and Gardens cookbook for pretty much everything. While the kids were busy doing their morning schoolwork, I threw together some banana bread for our mid-morning snack. The only tip I can add to a basic banana bread recipe is to double the batch so you can share a loaf with a neighbor!

Double Batch Banana Bread

3 cups flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 eggs

2 cups mashed bananas (5-6 bananas)

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup cooking oil

Grease loaf pan of choice on sides and bottom.

Mix dry ingredients.

Mix eggs, bananas, sugar, and oil in a separate bowl.

Add banana mixture to dry ingredients; stir and pour into pan/pans.

Bake 35-50 minutes at 350° (more time if you made 1 deep loaf, less time if you divided batter into 2-3 loaves. I used 3 small loaf pans today, and they were done in 35 minutes.)

Summer Things

We may have started our fall home school routine last week, but that doesn’t mean summer is over. We’re still in the thick of it; the air is beginning to smell hot and stale, and we still have two months of summer ahead. I’m trying to enjoy summer while we have it instead of wishing for fall too soon. Here are a few things we’re keeping busy with these last weeks of summer.

Walking…I’ve been walking every evening up and down our little street. When we first moved into our house, I loved our house, our yard, the woods behind our house, but I didn’t particularly like our street. However, once I began walking it regularly I’ve really grown to love it. The people who were strangers have become familiar neighbors. I have little chats with these new neighbors about their pets and their trees, and it’s become one of my favorite ways to end the day. There are 27 houses on our street, and getting to know the people in them one small conversation at a time makes the world feel a little friendlier and safer. My goal this pregnancy has been to walk 5 miles a day (about 10,000 steps). It gets harder and harder to stay motivated to move while pregnant, so making it a habit helps me walk even on days I don’t want to. Most days I feel better once I have gone out and exercised because that’s always what exercise does!

Baking…One of my resolutions this year was to bake less to make my life simpler, but then I remembered I love baking. So, I’ve been baking again. This summer I made my first batch of hot rolls. They made our entire house smell like my grandma’s house. The kids all love to take turns helping me. I know they won’t always want to help, so I’m glad they’re learning now even though it’s sometimes harder when they help. The girls are already volunteering to make things by themselves, and while I’m not quite ready to let them loose alone with a recipe (they’re 6 & 8), I’m excited for the day when they can stretch their independence and accomplish a meal without me!

Cold Suppers…Sometimes when it’s so hot outside, a hot meal is too much. Sandwiches, wraps, and noodle salads are refreshing when it’s feels too hot to eat anything warm. We’ve been having BLT wraps with fresh tomatoes from the farmers’ market every Saturday for lunch, and it’s become a tradition we look forward to all week!

Book gathering…I’ve been slowly reading one book the past couple months. I don’t read very much in the summer, so I’ve been stacking up a few on a special corner of the shelf for fall/winter when the longer hours of darkness makes reading more appealing.

Praying…We have been praying through some things over the past few months, and it has been a defining aspect of our summer. It’s funny how we naturally want to follow our feelings and make quick decisions, but wisdom often tells us to wait and make decisions slowly. I’m thankful for a husband that encourages slow, prayerful decision making. Waiting until we are in perfect agreement on things can take time and can be uncomfortable as we wait in an unknown, but we know it will make the end result sweeter to be 100% in agreement. 

What about you? Does summer end when school starts, or do you let summer stretch until the weather agrees it’s time for a change of seasons?