Monday, August 19, 2013

24 Weeks

(I look so much bigger in these pictures than I feel!!!)

Yesterday I realized that we only have about 3 ½ months left until we get to meet this baby boy!! Wow. This is FLYING by. I hope we’re ready! For now, I love feeling him moving around all the time. (And I do mean ALL the time!) Norah even got to feel him the other day!

Next week I’ll update on our ultrasound, which is this Thursday (can’t wait!), and on house stuff. It is taking us longer than I had hoped to actually get our house on the market, but I’m sure by next week it will be. It just keeps raining! (We want to take our pictures when it’s not so gloomy and when we have a chance to mow the lawn.)

I’d like to use this blog post to talk about: food.

Food has been entering my awareness more and more in the past couple of years as I keep running across informative studies, articles, documentaries, etc. At first, I was shocked every time I read that certain foods I considered healthy may contain harmful and disease causing substances. After a while, it became overwhelming to even remember which foods are safe and which are not.

So, here’s how I simplify it.

What is food?

Unprocessed Meat, poultry, fish...
Dairy products made through natural processes
Other animal products such as honey and eggs
Things that come from plants (fruits, veggies, herbs, seeds, nuts, oats…)

Can you think of anything else that is food? I can’t. But if asked to name the products they eat on a daily basis, most people would have a much longer list.

So, what ISN’T food?

Man made chemicals.

Plain and simple. If you buy pre-made packaged anything, it very likely contains chemicals, which are NOT FOOD, and which are TOXIC. Eating chemicals causes disease and just an all around state of poor health. Obviously, chemicals are especially harmful to children (and unborn children), who are still growing and developing.

If you are buying packaged food, you can read the label and see exactly what’s in it.

But chemicals are hiding in other foods too.

Animals exposed to hormones or antibiotics will have those substances in their meat, milk, and eggs.

Produce is grown with pesticides, which are toxic. I have even read, but not confirmed, that organic foods aren’t much better, because farmers almost always use some form of pesticide, even if it’s a “natural” one (which are also harmful to us), or they may just use LESS chemical pesticide and still be considered organic!

Genetically modified foods are everywhere as well, and they have not been proven to be safe for consumption. In fact:

“The organs of rats who ate genetically modified potatoes showed signs of chronic wasting, and female rats fed a diet of herbicide-resistant soybeans gave birth to stunted and sterile pups.”


“GMOs require massive amounts of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides.” 


There is also one category of...uh...things we eat, that I do consider food, but not good for you. Actually, I would call it a “filler.” 


“Gluten containing grains like wheat, barley and rye require special attention because they can be particularly damaging to your health. All grains, including other non-gluten containing grains like oats and corn, are bad because they contain gut irritating lectins and mineral binding phytates.”

“When it comes to things that we, humans, are not adapted to eat and digest, wheat and its gluten protein is probably at the top of the list. It’s very sad that wheat is so omnipresent in our society though and many health conditions would probably not even exist if it were not for our high consumption of wheat.”

Come to think of it, I would put sugar in a similar category. It’s natural (so, better than artificial sweeteners), but not in any way good for you.

Now, on to application. Now that I know what to avoid, there is an AWFULLY long “Do Not Eat” list!!

So far, I’m improving, but FAR from perfect. I am still at the point where I make many exceptions, because sometimes my desire for a certain food, or the convenience of it, outweighs my concern.

I am:

  • Drinking raw milk (no antibiotics or hormones, more nutrients)
  • Buying only local eggs from free range chickens, though I still need to incorporate more eggs in my diet
  • Buying as much local organic produce as possible, even if there’s still a possibility of the presence of pesticides
  • Eating maybe 50% fewer grain products, and also around 50% less sugar (when I do eat wheat products, I try to at least make it whole wheat/whole grain)
  • Almost entirely avoiding everything processed/ pre-made
  • Completely avoiding fast food, but if I have to (like, on road trips) I try to find something I know won’t be too processed, like a salad
  • Almost entirely avoiding eating out, mostly to save money. But a perk is knowing where my food comes from and what’s in it.
  • Eating MORE veggies...because when you cut out all the junk, you have more room in your tummy for nutrient rich foods! I like to make smoothies with fruit, plain Greek yogurt, and spinach (which I can't taste in a smoothie). I add honey if it isn't sweet enough. I do like the taste of most veggies, but it's an easy way to get some extra greens.

I try to stick to this with Norah, too. The hard thing is that she has already been exposed to some junk foods, and of course, she likes them! Juice (which has lots of sugar!) and crackers seem harmless enough, but I’d rather have her stick to whole foods.

The great thing is that when I combine healthful eating with a moderate amount of exercise (I don’t consider myself very active, outside of doing what needs to be done around the house), I have noticed a difference in my energy level, which has always been on the low side.

There is a  reason I chose now to start working on this. I want to be as healthy as I can be while I am pregnant. I didn’t know all of this (I did know some) when I was pregnant with Norah. I was told back then that wheat products, especially white carbs, would cause the baby to put on extra weight. I cut back a little, but not as much as I could have, and Norah was 8 pounds 4.5 ounces at birth. She wasn’t huge, but she definitely was chubby, and it didn’t bode well for my recovery.  My midwife told me at the time that if I had torn any worse, I would have been going to the operating room. I want to do everything in my power to have a healthy baby, AND a healthy me!

I’m heading in the right direction, anyway. :-)

Now for some photos:

Norah wanted a "cozy spot" in her closet at nap time one day. :-)

We did manage to take a couple pictures for our house listing today:

The bedroom is not perfect, but we're still working to declutter, and I am really proud of the work we've done so far. I'm even more proud to say that except for the rugs and a few personal items I removed for the photo, this is an accurate representation of what our bathroom has looked like for the past couple of months, since I started getting serious with the Fly Lady stuff. :-)

Like I said, more on house stuff next week! Stay tuned!

Monday, August 5, 2013

22 Weeks - House Stuff

Ridley’s getting big! We hadn't been to church in a few weeks, so when we went today, several people noticed and seemed surprised that I’m not due until December! I’m definitely bigger than I was with Norah at this stage. Here’s a comparison picture:

I’m still failing at getting a blog post done every week, and at getting pictures and videos uploaded...I also misplaced my Bloggie. :-( I last saw it when we were in Delaware last week, so I hope it didn't get left there!

But I would like to use this post to talk about something I’m actually not failing at anymore. :-)

I am finally becoming a decent housekeeper. Maybe even a really good one. And I can’t believe it.

When I was pregnant with Norah, I remember doing several blog posts talking about trying to get organized and get rid of some clutter. It didn't happen. I could organize one area, but it wouldn't stay that way. We had piles of stuff everywhere, especially in our bedroom. No, in the bedroom it was mountains.

Finally a few months ago I decided I couldn't live with it anymore. I can’t function in clutter. I was constantly spinning my wheels and getting overwhelmed. I could not let myself do anything fun, because I could see all the work I should be doing. I could not enjoy spending time with Norah. And because I spent all morning treading water and then the afternoon and evening teaching piano lessons, dinner was always last minute. After dinner, when I should have been enjoying my time with my little family, I would usually sit and mess around on the computer, putting off taking care of the mess from dinner. Then around the time I should have been going to bed, I’d finally get around to doing the dishes (or decide to leave them for the next day). Then I’d want to have some time to myself, so I’d mess around on the computer some more or watch TV before going to bed way too late. Not a fun way to spend every day.

Back in February or March, I started to make changes. I mentioned to one of my sisters that I was trying to declutter, and she told me to look up I definitely found it to be a helpful resource, but I couldn’t stay motivated. It felt impossible to make any real progress with Travis working full time, and me working whenever he wasn’t. So I put it off and waited for summer. Decluttering became my focus, and my reason for looking forward to summer vacation. Getting rid of the clutter in my house meant that I would then be free to spend my time doing things I enjoy.

So, as soon as lessons were done and school was out, we got serious. I started reading my Fly Lady emails again, and though they tend to take over my inbox, I like them because they keep me focused and encouraged. If you are like me and don’t know where to start, will be your best friend. I can’t say enough good things about it. It isn’t a strict program you have to follow to the T. On the contrary, it is flexible and focuses on the idea that things don’t need to be done perfectly!

I couldn’t keep my house clean without first getting the clutter out.

“You can’t organize clutter. You can only get rid of it!”  - Fly Lady

After reading the decluttering tips, I decided that everything we don’t use or love needs to go. Everything else is clutter!

My other sister told me about a consignment store near her house that takes all kinds of stuff. They tag it for you, and then you get paid 30% (wish it was higher, but oh well) after it sells. That was my perfect solution. We had some stuff in really good shape that I didn’t want to just give away, but I didn’t want to mess with having a yard sale either.

So far, I have taken four full loads (20 kids clothing items and 15 adult clothing items, plus a few household things). So, at least 100 items gone from my house (they didn’t accept all that I brought).

I have also taken several loads to Goodwill -- things that weren’t worth enough to consign. That’s at least 100 more items gone.

We have listed and sold a few more expensive items on Ebay...maybe 15 things so far.

I have a number of things I plan to list on Craigslist as well.

I have also reorganized every single closet in our house to make maximum use of space. Our upstairs linen closet is almost entirely full of things we are getting rid of. As I find things around the house that need to go, I put them there until consignment day or a trip to Goodwill, etc. When that’s empty, we’ll have all that space free!

Along the way, I have also been able to implement some good habits that were also inspired by Fly Lady.

“Swish and Swipe”: I spend about one minute every day cleaning our bathroom. That’s all it takes!

Making the bed: Seems ridiculous, but I was never in the habit of making my bed until I realized how much better I feel when I do.

Laundry: Put a load in every night, dry it in the morning, fold it, and put it away. Doesn’t take long if you keep up with it! I even get to skip some days because it’s all done!

Shining the kitchen sink: An easy way to keep the kitchen clean. If the sink has to be shined, the dishes have to be clean first! And then if you’re going to shine the sink, you might as well wipe of the counters while you’re at it...

“Do it now!”: If I see a mess or something that needs to be put away, I don’t put it off. This habit might be the best one, because it doesn’t allow for things to get out of hand. I never get overwhelmed.

I am working on planning my meals/shopping trips. Otherwise we eat dinner very late or spend too much money going out to eat. I also like having leftovers in the fridge all the time. Makes for easy lunches!

We are not done yet, but already I am SO much calmer and happier.

On a very exciting note, we have decided that our house looks decent enough now that we can put it back on the market! We are so eager to move. This family needs more space. Wish us luck!

Now, some photos from the past few weeks:

Travis painted and put this together for Norah!

This is what happened when Norah was left to her own devices for a few minutes one morning...

Note that she is standing on her rocking chair to reach her beauty accessories...

And lastly, some photos from Delaware! (I have more on my Bloggie...these were all taken on our final day...the only chilly one we had!)

 She loves her "Uncle Rachel"!!

Dino Putt-Putt
 "I hit my green ball in the hole all by myself! I sit on the bench and wait my turn."

 All of us out for yummy seafood dinner!