Coconut Water and Fruit Popsicles

popsicle (2 of 2)-2I’ve seen a couple photos floating around about making Popsicles with fruit and coconut water.  We love making Popsicles around here, especially with summer arriving soon.  The last few days we’ve had some 80 degree weather so we thought we’d give it a try.

It was another simple recipe that yielded toddler (and adult) approved results!popsicle (1 of 2)

  1. We filled the Popsicles holders half full.
  2. We then chopped strawberries and filled till the rest of the Popsicles molds were full.
  3. If it appeared to have strawberries without coconut water, we topped it off with a little more coconut water.
  4. (We probably could have filled with strawberries first and then just added coconut oil then! But you benefit from our trial first)
  5. Enjoy!

The coconut taste is minimal to none for those of you that don’t like coconut (eh hem…my husband). The sugar content is only based off the fruit you choose so if you have a not so sweet batch of strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, or whatever fruit you want to try, you’ll have a less sweet Popsicles.popsicle (1 of 2)-2

Toddler Approved Green Smoothie

smoothie (1 of 5)My daughter goes through phases where she doesn’t eat much at all.  It’s not a pickiness thing so much as just a no food thing.  In those times, I try to make what she does consume as densely rich with nutrients. Smoothies are one of those ways. We try to do a green smoothie regularly (I’d love to make one every day but it doesn’t seem to be that often). This recipe has been my most recent green smoothie with LOTS of various veggies.

Here ya go….

I typically do two steps. The first, I juice some of the harder veggies (beets, carrots, etc) then I blend it with some of the softer veggies or fruits (kale, spinach, banana, etc). You could do the juicing part ahead of time and freeze the juice in ice cube trays, which would save some time and clean up each night.

Ingredients for the Juicer:

  1. 1 Beet
  2. 3 Carrots
  3. 1-2 apples
  4. 1/4 inch slice of ginger
  5. 1/2 cucumber

smoothie (3 of 5)

Ingredients for the Blender:

  1. Juice from the Juicer
  2. Handful of Kale (shredded it off the stem)
  3. Handful of spinach (between the spinach and the kale, I fill the blender)
  4. 1 banana
  5. 1/2 an avocado
  6. 1-2 tablespoons of chia seed or flax seed
  7. 1/2 cup of almond
  8. 1/2-1 cup of frozen berries (helps cool the smoothie as well)

Directions:

Add the greens to the smoothie first and blend with the juice.  This will allow the greens to be as small as possible, then add the rest of the ingredients and blend in increments as needed.

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It’s not the sweetest of smoothies so if your toddler won’t tolerate, add a bit more of the fruits but try to keep the veggies in the majority. If you don’t have all these ingredients (I don’t always), you can play with your ingredients a little.  (For example, in this picture, I didn’t have almond milk to add. Hence the rich purple color.)  Typically the banana adds a lot to a smoothie and is hard to leave out with this much greens and make your toddler still eat it

 

DIY Easter Empty Tomb Craft

cross (1 of 1)
Our empty tomb after the chia seeds grew! Love it!

Easter is just around the corner! One off my favorite times of the year.  Not only is it a spring, with all things new, beautiful flowers, and bright colors, it’s also the celebration of Jesus dying on the cross and raising from the dead.

empty tomb
This was our inspiration photo that has been floating around the internet. My mom shared the photo with me.

My mom sent me a picture to make an empty tomb decoration with my daughter.  My daughter was incredibly excited about it (she loves watching the stories of Jesus on my iphone Bible for Kids app by YouVersion and reading in her Bible).  We got so excited we set out looking around the house for the supplies.  Luckily, we found everything we needed…thus also learning the value of recycling, re-purposing, and saving our financial resources.  I love craft projects that don’t require purchasing anything and yet you are still able to make something new and beautiful.

Here’s what you need:

  • A small terracotta pot (ours might be a little big but again, we were trying to repurpose things we had)
  • A round pan, or pot bottom/tray
  • Some rocks
  • Some dirt
  • Chia seed, grass seed, or moss
  • Some sticks
  • Pipe cleaner, glue, or other means of fastening the cross

It’s pretty simple to complete once you have all the supplies (and feel free to improvise as needed). We used chia seeds and after the first few days, the dirt was so dry I was worried that they wouldn’t grow and was planning to go buy some moss.  However, today I noticed  a few little sprouts. I’ll post a picture as it gets green!  I was just too excited not to share this now so that others could do it for Easter too! (SEE OUR PICTURE AT THE TOP OF THIS POST!)easter (1 of 2) easter (2 of 2)

DIY Nursing Cover

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This year, there are so many new babies in my family! My son as born 4 weeks ago and I’m expecting two nephews and a surprise 2nd cousin in the next few months. It’s so much fun to watch our families growing and for our kids to all be close in age (my son and nephew will be nearly exactly a month apart!).

I love to sew and try to create things, even if I’m not the most experienced.  I think it’s the fun in seeing something created from just pieces.  I’m a HUGE advocate for breastfeeding. I’ll maybe write a post about that one of these times because I’m surprised at how little people actually do know about the benefits.  I have found breastfeeding has received a lot of publicity in recent years, especially regarding to cover or not to cover and women’s rights to nurse anywhere they choose.  I won’t get into the debate here. It’s a whole other can of worms.  However, for me, I have found much more comfort and peace when nursing when I’ve had a cover. My cousin is the only one having her first baby and so I decided to make her a nursing cover (knowing both my sister and sister in law don’t need one).I’m going to share with you how I made it, and trying to give you pointers in what I did wrong and how I would do it differently next time.

I’ve had 2-3 nursing covers and liked different features of all of them.  Thus, this one combines those features.  Many nursing covers have a D-Ring with and adjustable strap. I found it to be unnecessary and honestly the extra fabric for the strap just got messy and in the way. That’s why I found it brilliant that a friend made me one with an elastic strap instead! Love it! One of my covers has fabric on 2 sides, thus making it a little stiffer.  This is beneficial for keeping the cover’s shape so you can adjust and see your baby without your cover just collapsing on you.

Supplies you Need:

nursingcover (1 of 17)

  • 2 different fabrics 3/4 yard each
  • 17-18 inch piece of 3/4″-1″ elastic
  • 15 inches of boning

(Sew at 1/4″ unless otherwise specified)

1. Cut a piece of both fabric “A” and fabric “B” into 36″x25.” Cut a piece of both fabric A & fabric B that is 20×2 (if you use 3/4″ elastic, you can make this a little thinner instead of 2″).nursingcover (3 of 17)

2. Pin together the 20×2 pieces together with right sides facing each other. Pin your elastic to one of the short ends. Sew along the 3 sides you pinned, leaving one end open to turn it inside out. Your elastic will be sewn in on the one end but able to freely move otherwise.
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3. Put a safety pin on the free end of the elastic so that it makes it easier to retrieve once you’ve turned your strap inside out. Turn the strap inside out. Press with an iron.

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4. Press 1/2″ hem along the top (one of the long sides) of Fabric A. This will be the outside of your cover so choose the fabric you want visible. Find the middle. Tuck the boning into the hem and pin in place.Image

5. Retrieve the end of the elastic out of the collar piece and pin both elastic and fabric along hemline at end of boning. Pin other end of collar at other end of boning.

6.Stitch along the edge of the hemline across the entire edge of fabric.  Also create vertical stitches at each end of the boning to keep it in place.

nursingcover (12 of 17)

Image

7. Press 1/2″ hemline on Fabric B just as you did on Fabric A. Pin together fabric A and Fabric B with right sides together. Stitch along 3 sides (not side with the collar). Once it is stitched together, turn it side out. Snip the corners so that they lay nicely. Iron/press along edges. nursingcover (8 of 17)

nursingcover (2 of 17)

8. Stitch along side with collar (as close to the edge as you like- you’ll already have one stitch line visible so it sometimes looks nice to have one really close to the edge to have 2 parallel stitch lines running together).

9. I added a stitch line around the other 3 sides at 1/2″ line to help keep the 2 fabrics smooth and neat. It isn’t necessary but adds a nice touch.

10. You’re done!

nursingcover (14 of 17)I love this fabric! I wish I were keeping the cover for myself.

nursingcover (16 of 17)The cover’s boning really allows for ease of seeing baby while nursing. This is a downward view while wearing.

nursingcover (17 of 17)

I meant to write these directions as I did it but got stuck problem solving and didn’t so if I missed something or wrote something incorrectly, let me know!

Birth Story of Our Son

When you are getting ready to have your first baby there is so much anticipation about the birth process.  You can read and prepare but you really have no clue what it will really be like.  Then with your second, you have the previous experience and thus you shape your expectations of the second birth off that first experience (whether it was good or bad) plus the wealth of knowledge that you’ve gained since then too.  I had expectations for my second birth.  I think we all do.  But boy did God decide to show me how little control I have and how He ultimately knows what is best for us.

As I approached my due date, I began praying for specific things regarding our birth and labor experience.  Slowly, each prayer I prayed kept getting denied and I’d have to adjust my expectations and trust that God knew what He was doing.  There were so many things going against my anticipated plan that I nearly changed from delivering at the hospital birthing center to doing a home birth.  But in the end, I trusted that God was still in control of the whole thing.

For some reason, I truly believed I would deliver early. When my 2.5 year old daughter told me God told her it would be on the 16th, I think that date became sort of ingrained in my head.  However, that day came and went.  As did the next 10 days between that and my due date… And then the 10 days after my due date. God taught me a lot in those 20 days.  I prayed for patience and while I got it, it wasn’t in the form that I had anticipated…a nice head cold came my way from week 39-40. Then I subluxed a rib and had excruciating pain in my side limiting my movements.  My grandparents came and went, without the arrival of our little baby.  My dad came and went.  My best friend and step mom came and went…still no baby.

I had literally tried everything to induce labor.  Knowing that I would be traveling for a wedding in only a few weeks, I wanted my little newborn to be as strong as possible for the cross country adventure.  Even as stupid as some of the natural induction method sounded, I was willing to give it a try…eating lots of pineapple, walking one foot on the curb and one off, coffee potty (google if you’re interested!), spicy food, Chinese food, Labor cookies (google!), red raspberry leaf, evening primrose oil, castor oil, etc.  You get the idea.

10pm

Then finally…after 2 false labor starts, I started to feel the same thing again.  My contractions weren’t really strong but they were frequent (like the 2 false starts), coming every 1-5 minutes.  Joe and I went for a walk and they seemed to slow a little.  They’d pick back up when I got in the shower. I was hopeful that it would be labor as I had my induction date scheduled and was really hoping that I’d go into labor before then.  But at the same time, the way the contractions were (or weren’t really) progressing made me sort of doubtful.

3am

I finally called my midwife and she suggested waiting another 30 minutes and see how things progressed.  When I called back after 30 minutes, not much had changed.  We decided we’d head in just to see how things were progressing at least for peace of mind.  As we were driving to the hospital, I told Joe that I didn’t think it was the night.  My contractions were getting further apart, now 6-7 minutes a part but feeling a little more intense.  Walking into the emergency room, I was getting a little depressed.  When I went in with my daughter, it was obvious I was in labor (I was 8 cm dilated at that point–of course it was obvious. Read my daughter’s birth story here).

When the midwife performed an exam, I was 4cm.  Better than I had been at my appointment just a few days prior but not really what I’d been hoping to hear.  She suggested admitting because my first labor went quickly and if things didn’t progress, I could go home.  Being GBS positive, if I received 2 doses of antibiotics (which have to be given 4 hours apart), she’d discuss breaking my water if we needed to speed things along.  It had been too long since my stress test so they did another one.  He wasn’t responding well so they gave me some fluids until his heart rate started responding adequately.

We transferred to the birth center, Joe went to the car to get our stuff, and I was in the room all by myself, swaying on the side of the bed with each contraction, which seemed to be getting more and more intense.  Within just a few minutes, my water broke.  With my daughter, I had been in the birthing tub when my water broke so I never really had that same experience.  The nurse came in and immediately called the midwife saying “light mec.”  The midwife came and examined and determined that the amount of meconium in my fluid was to be expected being 10 days over and it wasn’t enough to exclude me from the birth center.  Thank goodness!

4am

With the time between my water breaking and  delivering my daughter, and everyone anticipating this labor to be uber fast, I called my friend Rachel to let her know she could come down as she was planning to take pictures.  She was there in no time and I labored in the shower and the tub for a few hours.  I tried to eat a little snack to keep my energy up and be prepared.  Bad idea, I threw it up all over the room before I could make it to the toilet.

After awhile, I noticed I was getting a lot of time in between my contractions.  It was nice to have a little rest and everyone kept saying “it’s the calm before the storm.”

7am

At 7, it was shift change and the midwives were trying to decide if they needed to have an extra midwife stay on (apparently the first week in March has been a busy time this year).  So they did an exam and I was at 7-8cm.  So we continued on…Joe providing counter pressure to my back with each contraction. We used a few oils here and there, finding great reprieve with the lavender, peppermint, and wild orange.

10am

I was losing my steam and energy.  I sort of had a gut inclination that things weren’t going well. I was still at 7cm and he was still at -2 station (where he’d been for the last 2 weeks when I’d had my membrane sweep in the office).  For weeks, I’d been pretty sure he was in the posterior position and I had spent weeks trying to turn him to no avail.  Something in my gut made me feel like he wasn’t getting into my pelvis because he was in the posterior position and that’s why labor wasn’t progressing.  Between contractions I was walking and walking around in my room.  With each contraction, I was performing lunges and squats and other maneuvers to try to get him to turn and engage.  My contractions were getting farther and farther apart.  I was now getting about 5-15 minutes between contractions.  Despite my efforts, I didn’t feel like I was making progress.  Sometimes during a contraction I’d bear down trying to make him progress.  I could sometimes feel like he was engaging but as soon as the contraction let up, he’d bounce back up.  Joe and my midwife were both great at trying to encourage me on. After while, I kept just repeating “I can’t do this. I can’t do this.” The breaks between such intense contractions was making it unbearable.  I just kept wishing for more contractions because I knew the more I had the more productive it would be.

Eventually my midwife approached the subject of pitocin.  She agreed we needed to get the contractions to pick back up and all the natural methods we’d tried just weren’t doing it, and my contractions were continually getting further and further apart.  I had been in labor for 12 hours already and was tired! I knew pitocin contractions could be super intense and wasn’t sure I was up for doing that after having labored for 12 hours, when I was already ready to give up.  In my head, I kept thinking….this labor was supposed to be faster than my first and I’m now at 12 hours and still have a ways to go….where is this baby???

It didn’t take much for me to feel comfortable with the idea of having an epidural and getting the pitocin.  Before going into labor, my advice to people that wanted to do it natural was to go into the experience totally determined to push through and not let an epidural be an option in your head.  I truly feel like God gave me the peace of mind about the decision.  I feel he’d been setting up the whole experience thus far to prepare my heart for making that decision.

11am(ish)

It was right as we were transferring to L&D that my mom (who had just landed from Sacramento) and my sister (drove down from OC), both showed up.  I started crying as I told them we were transferring but feel it was more of grieving moment.  Shedding off my expectations of birth and the amazing experience I had envisioned, and giving it up for whatever may come.

Up until this point, I was unable to tolerate a contraction without movement and Joe putting pressure on my back.  But the contractions were dulling and I was able to maintain seated on the edge of the bed or in the wheelchair.  Yet again, receiving reassurance that I was making the right decision to get the pitocin. And yet again, I threw up when I tried to drink some tea my sister had brought me.

12am (ish)

The transfer from the birth center to L&D is when I sort of lost track of time so not sure exactly on all the timing.  The anesthesiologist gave me my epidural but after awhile I was still feeling pain in one little slice near my hip.  The anesthesiologist came back and gave me 2 more doses.  I’ve never had any sort of pain med like that.  It was a weird experience, still being able to move my legs a little, feel him moving in my belly, but no longer feeling contractions.  Once I was good and numb, they started the pitocin.  Slowly over the next few hours, my nurse would increase the pitocin, waiting for my contractions to get back to every 2-3 min.  They kept lingering at around 3-5min apart.

Around 2pm

My sister wandered over to the monitors and watched the contractions.  She kept saying “you have to be able to feel that…that’s a huge contraction.”  I had begun to feel a little pressure, so I was thinking that it would be getting close to the time.  A few minutes later my nurse walked in and we told her what our conversation had been.  She decided to do a quick exam and see if she could see the baby’s head at all.  To our surprise….his head was half way out.  The next few minutes were craziness! Joe had been asleep, so he scrambled to get awake.  The nurses were scrambling for the midwife.  When she wasn’t there quickly, they began calling for an OB.  But just then the midwife walked in.  She was shocked to find his head all the way out.  They asked if I could push at all and I did my best but not sure if it did anything to help as he slithered is way out, in the anterior position nonetheless.

2:16pm

16 hours later, our little boy was born! All 8lbs 13 oz of him!  (My daughter had said 16 all along and I interpreted to be 2/16 as in February 16.  Instead he was born at 2:16).  He was immediately placed on my chest but wasn’t really breathing.  march2014 (2 of 7)The nurses and I were all trying to stimulate him to breath but he wasn’t making progress.  The midwife immediately cut his cord and they took him to the table for some O2 and suctioning. It was a bummer to not have the delayed cord cutting and for my husband not to be able to do it.march2014 (3 of 7)

 After a few minutes they brought him back to me saying he was breathing better but still not great.  I laid him on my chest, talking to him and praying he’d take a few good breaths.  After a few coughs, his breathing no longer sounded wet.  I put him near the breast and he immediately started nursing….and didn’t stop! It was amazing! My daughter and I struggled with breast feeding for weeks so it was amazing to see him latch on and go for it as if he had done it many times before.march2014 (4 of 7) march2014 (5 of 7)

I do feel in some ways I need to grieve the ideal experience I had been hoping and praying to have.  I do feel blessed for how things went.  An OB friend of mine suggested that the epidural and the pitocin could have what allowed him to turn, by relaxing my hips and creating more consistent and effective contractions. When I read all the possibilities that could occur during birth, things could have been worse.  My experience wasn’t a bad one by any means, just different than what I had envisioned.  Going through the whole process again in my head does make me sad for the birth I won’t have but grateful for the way it did go.

march2014 (6 of 7) march2014 (7 of 7)

With my daughter I had lots of labor support. This time, I relied solely on my husband and I’m grateful for all he did.  I couldn’t have done it without him.

Freezer Meal—Chicken stuffed with Feta, Spinach, and Ham

I love easy prep meals.  I especially love easy prep freezer meals.  I’ve been trying to prep for the arrival of our next little baby and so I’ve started putting together some freezer meals.  Here’s one I did today!

stuffed chicken (1 of 2)

(Picture is of Uncooked meal)

Ingredients:

4-6 breasts of chicken (it depends on the size of the chicken. I did only 4 but they were huge pieces)

3 oz Cream Cheese

1/2 cup Feta Cheese

Salt and Pepper

4-6 pieces of ham (or more as you like)

Spinach (as much as you like. I try to get as much in as I can. Roughly 2 cups for the 4 breasts)

Instructions:

1. Slice open breasts on one side to create a pocket. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Mix together cream cheese and feta.

3. Insert ingredients.  I typically do ham first, then spinach, and lastly the cream cheese and feta mixture.

4. Wrap up individually to freeze, or place in covered baking pan to cook now.

5. When ready to serve, cook covered at 350* for approximately 45-60 minutes or until thoroughly cooked.

You can always add more salt and pepper to taste after it’s been cooked.

Enjoy!

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The Scoop on Elderberry

I’m a huge proponent of natural health and I use a lot of essential oils to achieve that.  But they aren’t my only means of health.  Over the last few months I’ve seen a lot of information floating around regarding elderberry.  With a newborn due to arrive anytime, I figured it’d be worthwhile to investigate it a little further and see if it could help boost my family’s immune system in preparation for having a newborn in the house during flu season (and a not so great flu season at that!). I’m sharing with you my research!

elderberry

What is Elderberry?

Sambucus, or elderberry, is a plant with dark black or black blue berries.  It has been known to be anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and anticancerous.  It has been known to stimulate the immune system and been highly effective against the flu.  It is beleived that the anthocyanins in the elderberries is the active component for this effect.

What is is used for?

  • Flu
  • Sinus Pain
  • Colds
  • Allergies
  • Respiratory health
  • Sciatica
  • Nerve Pain
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

How to take Elderberry?

Much research states it is beneficial to take at the onset of initial flu symptoms.  Those that do, tend to demonstrate shorter duration of symptoms.  It appears that it is most effective for up to 5 days.  There is little evidence regarding it’s side effects/safety past this point.  I was under the impression (prior to doing this research) that it was beneficial to take as a preventative measure.  However, in my search, it appears there is limited information to support this claim.  Some even make statements regarding possible detrimental effects if taken for longer periods of time (check out this website for a little more information.

Cautions

There isn’t sufficient research for those who are pregnant or those with autoimmune disorders.  avoid preparations of dwarf elder, which could be toxic.  Only intake elderberry from reputable source as unsafe preparations could be poisonous (cyanide posioning).

For more information, research, and effectiveness, check out this website

The Bottom Line

When taken at recommended dosing from a reputable company, it can be beneficial during the course of a flu.  As a preventative, or long term use, it’s benefits are unsubstantiated.