Stay Connected To Family & Friends During Lockdown

5 Ways To Stay Connected As A Family During Social Distancing And Lockdown

Image Credit: Pexels, Free to Use Licence. 

 

COVID-19, social distancing measures and lockdown have put restrictions on families and friends, stopping them from visiting one another and gathering in close groups. For elderly relatives, or those living alone, this can be a very isolating time, so it is important for families to come together and to stay connected-somehow. If you’re missing your family gatherings and have relatives who are confined to their homes alone, then here are 5 ways you can stay connected safely. 

Write to everyone 

There’s something very special about receiving a handwritten letter in the mail. We just got letters and “specials” from some friends that we are used to seeing often. The kids were so excited to each receive their own mail and of course, they felt connected to the family that sent them.

Why not have an arts and crafts day and create some beautiful cards to send to your loved ones. Let the little ones go wild with dot paints, crayons and water color pencils. If you want to add an extra special touch then you could even use an embossing folder to create a 3D effect.

The lovingly created designs will brighten anyone’s day.

Host a family quiz

Who doesn’t love a quiz? Get your family together online through a platform such as Zoom or Skype and host your own weekly family quiz.

Name your teams, answer the questions, have a laugh and enjoy each other’s virtual company. To keep the questions varied and to ensure that no one person has to always put in the work, let the winner of the quiz choose someone to host it the following week. If you really want to go all out, get all the different families that will join on Zoom the same game (we love Trivial Pursuit) and play together virtually.

Have a cook-along

Missing Granny’s pot roast? Then have a cook along and recreate her dish using her recipe. Circulate a list of ingredients that everyone needs to get ahead of time and then arrange a time and day to come together via a video link. Whoever is leading the cook-along is in charge of this cooking show, so simply follow their lead and in no time everyone should be eating a perfect replica of the family favorite. You could even set the table and sit down altogether from behind your screen to enjoy it.  

Video chat 

Although a cook-along or quiz may be fun, sometimes all you need is a good, long video chat. Set up your video link, get comfortable with a cup of tea or coffee, and simply catch up on the activities you have been doing and how you are all feeling. Isolation and lockdown can be very trying on our mental health, so offer a sympathetic ear to those in need and have a laugh to make you all feel better. Be there for those that get especially down during isolation, or who have fears during this time.

Throw a Netflix party

Finally, if you’re looking for a way to relax together while staying apart then throw a Netflix Party.

Netflix Party allows you to synchronize the playing of your favorite shows and also has a built-in group chat so you can discuss the plot and keep the conversation flowing. What’s more, Netflix Party is completely free to use for Netflix members and with more than a million shows to choose from, you won’t be running out of things to watch any time soon. 

 

Surviving social distancing as a close-knit family may be hard, but together we’ll get through it, and be stronger, more appreciative, and have better habits when it is all done!

Disclaimer: Some links on this blog are affiliate links; when you use those links you help support my family, at no additional cost to you.  Thank you!

Perfect Gluten Free Sourdough Bread Recipe

I have scavenged the internet and cookbooks alike for a perfect gluten free sourdough bread loaf.

Gluten Free Sourdough Bread

Needless to say, it wasn’t easy … and NO ONE seemed to have what I was looking for. Lots of recipes called for added yeast, no sourdough starter at all, lots of different flours, gums, and additives. There were many that used gluten free flours that I don’t keep on hand, or recipes that weren’t for a bread loaf.

But alas, I have done it! After at least a year of messing with recipes, I’ve mixed, matched, and played with it until we finally have a perfect gluten free bread loaf recipe!

For best results, use a gluten free starter like this one, and an all purpose gluten free baking mix

You will need to start feeding your starter the day before you plan to bake bread. For example, if I want to make bread on Wednesday, I will feed my starter on Tuesday, and make the dough that night. It will ferment overnight, and then I will do the short second rise Wednesday morning, then bake.

If you want to make it for an evening meal, just do the fermentation during the day, short second rise, then bake.

**Tip- I feed my starter and put it in the oven, with the light on, to keep it warm. I keep our house pretty cool, so it would take a while for it to really ferment on my counter.

Don’t be intimidated by the length of the recipe! The steps are short and I promise they are simple- much easier than it looks at first. After you make this the first time, you will have no problem making it again and again!

Perfect Gluten Free Sourdough Bread Recipe

See Detailed Nutrition Info on

Ingredients

  • 1 cup gluten free sourdough starter FED
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 TB melted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 2 TB honey
  • 2.5 cups all purpose gluten free flour mix/baking mix
  • 1 TB baking powder
  • 2 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine the sourdough starter, eggs, butter, milk, and honey.
  2. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until combined
  4. Then beat the mixture on medium/high for 3 minutes
  5. With damp fingers or wet spatula, smooth the surface of the dough flat.
  6. Spray the top with oil/Pam (we use coconut oil Pam)
  7. Cover tightly with lid or plastic wrap, and let ferment for at least 4 hours, up to over night (I do overnight)
  8. Oil a 9x5 loaf pan, sprinkle with flour, and with a damp spatula pour the dough into the pan. It will be less of a dough and more like a pancake batter consistency.
  9. Smooth out the top of the bread and, spray the top with Pam again, cover loosely and let rise for about an hour, up to 90 minutes. It should reach the top of the pan.
  10. Preheat oven to 400degrees
  11. Remove plastic wrap and place pan in the oven- turn down temperature to 350 degrees, and bake about 50-55 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting.
  12. I tried removing the bread at 40 and 45 minutes but it was not done all the way. I took it out at 50 minutes and let it cool. It was just about done. Another minute or 2 and it would have been perfect.
  13. The middle of the bread should be 200 degrees if you have a meat thermometer handy.

 

When you are done using the 1 cup of starter, you can feed your “mother” starter, and place it back in the fridge to live happily until the next baking day. I often go ahead and feed mine again for sourdough pancakes, while I have it out.

Disclaimer: Some links on this blog are affiliate links; when you use those links you help support my family, at no additional cost to you.  Thank you!

Preparing for Cold and Flu Season Naturally

preparing for cold and flu season naturally

Photo Credit HERE

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So, cold and flu season is almost here!  Obviously I hope none of us get sick, because well … that just isn’t fun!

Obviously there is no way to ensure your family doesn’t get sick, however, there are ways to boost everyone’s immune systems naturally to help ward off illness and lessen the blow when it happens!

We will be:

Will these things keep our family 100% well?  Maybe not, but that isn’t their job.  Combined with healthy foods and other natural lifestyle changes the above list definitely helps with overall health and wellbeing.  When you take care of the internal systems- the gut namely- the rest will take care of itself.

Gut health is so important- if you are having problems in the way of symptoms (think eczema, body aches, migraines, rashes, upset stomach,) look at the diet and gut health first.

Not all bodies are created equally, and not all foods are either.  

In case we do come down with illnesses, I will have my essential oils on hand, and my homemade cough medicine ready to go!  I also want to look into making some elderberry syrup and cough drops- that is on my “to try” list.

What will you do this fall and winter to care for your family?

 

**Disclaimer- This is not medical advice, and is only for information purposes. These are protocols that work for my family, which I feel very comfortable using, and have educated myself about using.  Please talk to your doctor, and only do what you are comfortable with for your family.  God bless!

Want to save 24% retail cost on your own organic, 100% pure, therapeutic grade oils?  Sign up here!

Weekly Wrap Up {homeschool update} with Baby #4 Summary

So, how goes being a mama of 4, 6 years old and under?  It is going really great!

Weekly Wrap Up {end of november}

We have fallen into our groove with routines, baby is sleeping great *most* days for her naps, which helps with our learning time as a family.  The kids are enjoying their school time; we have finally gotten pretty comfortable with Mister doing more activities while I teach Lexie.  Ila walks around with her ABC flash cards (I laminated them and put on a ring for her) during most of learning time. She likes to come sit in my lap through out the morning and “read” to me.  =)

Lexie (6 years old)

The Lady is just flying through everything I give her or introduce her to.  She enjoys reading; we are still going over the rules as we work through All About Reading, because I don’t want her to have gaps down the road.  However, she is reading on a 4-6th grade level.  Next we are going to start working to build her vocabulary, because when reading at a higher level, she is coming across many words she doesn’t know yet.

She is learning her math facts in math and really enjoys challenging herself with those.  She does her math sheets independently and we do calendar most days (sometimes I just forget ..).  Whenever we do hands on math with manipulatives Max likes to join in.  He can do math on her level, but his writing skills aren’t there yet so we don’t focus on a math curriculum at all for him- just hands on fun! (like it should be).

We have started using the CD that came with our science (Apologia’s Astronomy 2nd Edition)- that way I don’t have to read, but I can listen along and pause it to go more in depth or explain something a little better.  The kids follow along in the book, and then Lexie does the science journal.

Handwriting and math are part of her “clip board work,” that she does independently; I check over these after she has completed them to be sure she did her best, or understood everything.  She loves watching herself improve, and I enjoy the discipline she is learning in completing her work on her own.

ps-k-weekly-wrap-up3-end-of-november

Max (4 years old)

Mister is just reading like crazy.  He does not like to read formally, off a piece of paper yet. He likes me to write words on the board for him to read, and I am 100% okay with that!  He is only 4, after all.

He is working through Reading the Alphabet by ThisReadingMama.com- I used that with Lexie and she *loved* it, so he is enjoying it now.  Each week we go on to a new letter/site word.  His favorite activities are the mazes (he is constantly asking me to find mazes for him to do), and he enjoys syllable counting.  Max is also very interested in counting to 100 .. every. single. day.  Which is great so I go with it; he likes to get out his number chart for that (check our Rainbow Resources for those!).

PS, K Weekly Wrap Up {end of november}

Mister is still obsessed with puzzles and anything he can do with his hands.  We try to make sure he gets plenty of movement, hands on learning, and has lots of play time so he continues to grow a love for learning.

Ila (2 years old)

Ila is tagging along with us in everything we do.  Right now she enjoys puzzles, dolls, coloring, and practicing her letter sounds.  She doesn’t actually know the letters that correspond with the sound, but she likes to try and I like encouraging her.  She is going to follow Lexie in her eagerness to learn and read, I think.

PS, K Weekly Wrap Up {end of november}

Our Routine For Now {baby #4 is 4 months old}

  • 7am baby up, nurse
  • 7:15-7:20ish I get Max up for mama and baby time while I give baby a bottle
  • Mister gets “the sisters” up =)
  • I cook breakfast, baby hangs out in bumbo or bouncer, older 3 do morning chores/get ready for day
  • everyone eats breakfast and we do our morning basket “stuff”
  • 8:25 baby down for nap
  • all 3 bigger kids go outside or downstairs to play until 9am
  • 9am we begin school
  • 10:30- it is time to get baby up and fed.  We are usually done with school by this point, Lexie may have some clipboard work to finish on her own for the rest of the week
  • 11:15 everyone has lunch
  • 12:00 baby takes nap, then I put Ila down for nap, bigs go outside to play
  • 12:45 Mister goes down for nap, Lexie has rest time reading books, mama writes blog posts, does chores, or rests
  • 2:00 time to get baby up for feeding- Lexie usually comes in to spend time with me and baby
  • 3:00 everyone up from naps, outside or downstairs to play or we run errands
  • 3:30 baby down for last nap, I prep dinner if not yet done
  • 5:00 Baby up, nurse
  • 5:30 everyone eats dinner, baby gets solids
  • bath, wind down, sometimes we watch a show like Mister Rogers, Bob the Builder, Boxcar Children, etc
  • 6:30 baby gets bottle and goes right to bed
  • 7:00 everyone in bed, unless Mister napped good then he and Lexie get to stay up a little later (but they’re always ready for bed-that’s what happens when you spend most of your day running around a farm!)
  • Mama and Daddy time- this is my favorite part about keeping a good routine while our kids are young~I get 1:1 time with my husband and we can unwind from our days together without little people needing us non stop.  It’s nice!

Not everything is set to a specific time, but naps and feedings are.  Everything else works around that, and just sort of falls into place; it is simple and flows well because I don’t have to force anything.

Coralie {4 months old}

Baby #4- wow.  She is already 4 months old (19 weeks) and SO happy.  The best thing I could have ever done for this baby is getting a good sleep schedule down- without it she would still be crying, fussy, unhappy, and unpredicatable.

Because of her eating and sleep routines I am able to pinpoint what she needs, she rarely cries (and if she does it is because something is wrong), and she sleeps very well as long as I hit her wake time right (too short results in a short nap, too long results in crying).

baby-4-summary-4-months

But the BEST part of her routine-she went from HATING going to sleep in her crib, to *loving* it.  Before about 15 weeks old, she cried every time I laid her down on the changing table to put on her sleep blanket (we use THIS ONE).  Now, the girl is happy, kicking, and ready to go to bed as soon as I zip her up!  We talks and babbles while I sing Jesus Loves Me, sucks/gnaws on her hand (teething), and when I lay her down she goes to sleep within 20 minutes.  Sometimes she fusses after talking for a bit, but never cries for me to get her.  IF she is crying-crying, I will go rub some oil on her gums or try to burp her and then lay her back down.  Then she usually drifts off to sleep.

She is still a very social girl, loves talking and playing.  She got a jumper from her grandparents for Christmas, which I had to let her play in early because A) babies outgrow things fast and it seemed silly to waste a whole month of having it but not using it and B) she is all about kicking these days.  She loves it.  This way she can see everyone and know what is going on, which is right up her alley.

She is eating every 3.5 hours, her wake time is anywhere from 85-95 minutes (lengthens as we go through the day), and she is experimenting with solids.  We have done soft boiled egg yolk, green beans, squash, carrots, and peaches.  She devoured all of them, and stares at us while we eat.  I think she is ready for more in her day, but honestly I am not ready to have to tote around baby food, spoons, bibs, etc every time we leave the house.  I already have to pack formula and hot water, so Im good for now.  I am going to try to get by without daytime solids until 6+ months.  She is only having them at our dinner time (5:30) now.

That is pretty much it for our weekly wrap up and summary.  We are just trucking through everything, enjoying it as we go.

 

Disclaimer: Some links on this blog are affiliate links; when you use those links you help support my family, at no additional cost to you.  Thank you!

Friday on the Farm: Canning and Harvest

canned-tomatoes

So far this year we have harvested: 14 jars of salsa, 7 jars of spicy carrot salsa, and 10 jars of plain tomatoes in their own juice, PLUS what we have enjoyed eating.  =)  We also now have more peppers in the freezer than we have beef!

We are waiting on our bean harvest to come in, and the tomatoes are still going pretty strong, especially our cherry tomatoes.

I am almost certain the baby chickens have started laying; I am trying to keep count of the big girls’ eggs so today will be the true test.  If I get 7 eggs, OR 3 brown ones I know they are laying.  So exciting!  I can’t wait to add more girls to our flock in the spring.

We are VERY ready to add goats and hogs to the farm, but with a new baby we just don’t have the time for milking and tending them right now.  So, they will wait until baby is older and I have more time.

Have you been canning and freezing for winter?

 

Disclaimer: Some links on this blog are affiliate links; when you use those links you help support my family, at no additional cost to you.  Thank you!

Baby #3 Summary: 18 month Update and Routine

Well … Talk about dropping the ball  =/  Poor Ila hasn’t had very many baby updates.

But, here I am with her 18 month baby summary!

Personality and Development

Ila walks to the beat of her own drum, for sure.  While Mister and Lexie are out running around on their many adventures, Ila is usually either off in her own world (playing with trucks, or sitting in a hole in the yard playing with dirt), or totting right behind them.  She is still obsessed with animals and tends to talk back to them in their language, more than she speaks to us in ours.  She moos at cows, tweets and whistles at birds, growls at the dogs, and SCREAMS some wild meows at the cats; she can call, “here chick, chick, chick” just as well as I can, doesn’t have a single fear of those calves in the barn.  As far as she is concerned, Thora and Charlie belong to her and she is one of them.  (she doesn’t discriminate!)

Speaking of walking … Ila started walking full time somewhere around November (14 months) which is the absolute latest of all my babies.  The first two were walking by 9-10 months.  Ila just wanted to take her time.

Speaking of speaking … Ila has words, she just chooses not to use them most of the time. Ha!  Her vocabulary consists mostly of: Tho-ra, charlie (which comes out something like chagie), dog dog, meow, cat, air (airplane), mama (for mama, more, please, I’m waiting! and NOW!!), dada, dada home (cause that’s the biggest deal of the day besides meals), and my absolute favorite which comes out plain as day Yes Ma’am! haha  Why of all the words we have taught her did that phrase stick, we will never know…  There are a few more I am forgetting I’m sure, but these are the most widely used.  She won’t say Lexie or Max yet.

She does sign for her drink and please … but that’s about it.  She CAN doe “more-more” but chooses not to most of the time unless I really make her. 😉

I can say this about her- she is smart and hilarious!  She picks up on things so fast, without us even really realizing it, which I am sure is because she is submerged in a literature and language rich environment AKA living with her siblings.  They talk to her, sing to her, read to her, pretend with her, and if I’d let them they would feed her (that may or may not happen on occasion).  One day after dumping the ABC beanbags into the laundry basket, I found her sorting out the bean bags and laundry, putting each item where it belongs.
She is so funny, and will do just about anything to put a smile on your face.  She also finds herself quite humorous … I think she takes after her daddy!

18 Mo Baby Summary and Schedule

My silly, sweet, snuggly little rag-napper.  She enjoys stealing my rag off the kitchen sink

She is the snuggliest of all my babies.  Max was a snuggler, but mostly because he was refluxy and cranky and needed lots of reassurance; that snuggly behavior stuck through his personality to today.  Lexie liked snuggling as a baby (and really craves it now at 5.5) but then she wanted to go do her thing and come back again later.  Ila will just snuggle all day if you let her; she walks up to J.Tom and me and gives the BIGGEST squeeze hugs around our legs.  She often just wants to be held and lay her head on my shoulder.  She gives great big, squeaky kisses that put the slobberi-est of dogs to shame!

Eating and Favorite Things

At meals, she likes to be the first to fold her hands for the blessing so she can start eating.  She has started pointing to things and counting (like she sees Mister do), and she likes to bring me letters and say Mmmmm.  Apparently all letters are M (probably because Max says M-A-X Max! all day long).  She has discovered her spit (ew) and blows spit bubbles to get attention.  Her favorite foods are probably whole pears, which she has been eating since she was about 8 months old, and anything I cook that is warm.  She will devour anything, but like beans and ham, spaghetti, turkey sandwiches with spinach, and loooove green beans.  She really likes the tomatoes out of my vinegar salad and roasted broccoli.

She has finally started enjoying listening to me read to her; up to this point she just wanted to sit in my lap while she held the book and thumbed the pages.  Somehow it just soothed her, the feeling of the pages flipping.  And she still enjoys that, but we have started reading her Bible and she is actually listening and points to the pictures, etc.  So that’s nice.  While Mister and Lexie are doing school, she likes to ask for crayons and paper … but she just eats the crayons.

Her favorite things are our animals, anyone’s shoes, flipping through books, eating, and dancing.  She will play with Mister’s toy trucks for what seems like hours and rolls them all over the house.

Her eating schedule looks just like ours now.  Here is her daily routine:

  • 7am wake/snuggles
  • 7:30 breakfast- fried eggs, homemade oatmeal, and fruit with water
    • play while we finish morning school basket/do morning chores, begin school
  • 9:00/9:30-10:30 she goes to independent play in her crib while we do parts of school that require a little more quiet (Lexie reading aloud, math, me reading aloud if she is being particularly loud!)
  • 11:15 lunch
  • 12:00 nap   She usually sleeps until 2 or 2:30
  • 3:00 everyone up from naps
  • outside play/play downstairs if weather is nasty
  • 5:30ish dinner
  • 6:15ish bath
  • 6:30/6:45/7pm bed, depending on what time she woke up from nap.  If she slept until 2 or later bed is 6:45 or 7pm
  • All kids are in bed by 7, earlier if Max didn’t nap good

Everything is flexible by a few minutes other than sleep times.

This month marks the firs that we have truly been Wonder Week free!  Whew- let me tell you, since about Christmas, we have had one WW after another.  Some of those wouldn’t have been that noticeable, except that hers manifest themselves in waking at night- not just waking, but screaming all night unless being held.  A few times I tried to hold her, but she wouldn’t go to sleep, only stop crying.  So we had many wakeful, exhausting nights.  And once she came out of the WWs (I think they were the last 2 until she turns 2?) everything went back to normal.  Thankfully!

I think that is about it on her baby summary.  My next will probably be when she is about 2.  Of course we should have a newborn by then, so the summary may be a little late  😉

 

 

 

8.5 month Baby Summary Update {ww37 and babywise schedule}

Well, here we are; somehow Ila is 8.5 months old!  To think she is closer to 1 year old than a newborn baby … =(  It is going by so quickly.

8.5month Baby Summary {QuietInTheChaos.com}

But God meant for healthy things to grow, and she is surely growing!  She is a little over 20lbs and 28.5″ long; not as big as her siblings at this age, but that is okay.

Ila has 5 teeth and is working on one or two more.  She gave up nursing around the beginning of April, and though I was devastated and continued trying to get her to nurse, she was completely done by the third week of April.  Trying to nurse had become a battle that stressed us both out.  I really thougth she was going to nurse for the long haul; she was my best nurser out of my three babies.  But just like the others, once she realized the milk in the bottle came out faster, with less work involved for her, (even though it was the smallest size Tommie Tippee nipple), she was done with mama.  =(

She still has a head full of hair, and that is the first thing people notice about her.  The second thing they mention is how happy she is.  And she is happy.  The happiest baby ever; I know I say that on all of her summaries, but really.  She doesn’t get upset over much, she has never spit up a day in her life (which I attribute to not getting dairy protein through nursing or her formula), and the only time she has a hard time with sleep or not feeling well is during wonder weeks; she is even pretty happy while teething, with only one or two rough days.  I know this won’t last forever, at some point she will become a tiny tantrum on two feet, but for now, it is bliss!

Eating At 8 Months

Ila is eating every 4 hours … sorta?  =/  She is eating solids LIKE CRAZY.  If we are eating, she wants a bite of it.  Which means that she has been eating: burger meat, steak, meat loaf, rotisserie chicken, fried chicken, spaghetti, cooked carrots, cooked green beans, sautéed zucchini and onion, grapes, apple sauce, pears, banana, eggs … and really the list goes on (though no processed foods).  Basically if it is soft enough for her to chew, and homemade with real ingredients, she gets it.  I did give her some BBQ from a local restaurant the other night, and she liked that too.  =)

So at 3 of her 4 feedings she eats solids, then takes her bottle.  She refuses her bottle before she eats real food, and she won’t take it right after she eats … so a little after she has eaten she is ready for her bottle.  Oh- and if she hasn’t had a poopy diaper she won’t take a bottle, so basically her life revolves around when she poops!  haha  But I am working on not letting her eat as much food before her bottle, since that should still be her primary form of nourishment right now.

Schedule

Ila has moved seamlessly to a 2 nap schedule.  I knew it was time to drop the cat nap because her naps were being interrupted, but she was still tired after waking and about 20 minutes later she would go back to sleep.  Also, the third nap just seemed to be messing with her night sleep and first morning nap.  So … we dropped to a 2-3-4 schedule (loosely) and it has been working great.  Really it is more like a 2-2.5-4 hour schedule.  She hasn’t quite worked up to 3 hours at that second nap yet, but it won’t be long.  I imagine after this wonder week (ww37) she will be ready.

So at 8.5 months, her schedule looks like this:

  • 7am wake, bottle, solids
  • 9 down
  • 10:30 usually wakes, rest until 11
  • 11 up, lunch, bottle
  • 1 down for nap #2
  • 2:30-3 wake, solids, bottle
  • 5:30 dinner, bath
  • 6:30 bottle, bed
  • Asleep by 7pm

Development


Ila is doing new things every day!  Since my lsat summary, she has started sitting up, scooting on her belly, rolling all over the place to get to things she wants, clapping, and signing.  She likes to roll around on the floor and is really trying to crawl; she is thiiiiiis close to crawling!  But honestly, with the move, and rent house, etc.  I am not a huge fan of her crawling too soon anyway!

She has started signing for milk and more.  I think she started signing for milk about a month ago, but I wasn’t 100% certain.  Then she began signing for more, and it was pretty obvious what she was wanting!  haha  The baby is covered with fat rolls and loves to eat, what can I say?

The other day at the rent house Ila was in the floor with Scout (the singing talking dog).  It was singing a song and she started DANCING.  It was possibly the cutest thing ever.  So now, she just bounces and dances when it plays music.

Ila is working on grasping small pieces of food, and while she can usually pick them up, she has a hard time getting them into her mouth.  She has also discovered throwing things .. including her water cup!  NOT FUN.  Ugh.  But our little Mister is so sweet and gets it for her every. single. time she “drops” it.  haha  He is helping create a monster.  =)

Big brother and sister adore her.  I mean … just smother her to death adore her.  Including Mister- she is his “sweet baby girl Ila.”  I love that he is (usually) so gentle and good with her.  And big sister is mama’s BIG helper.  She is also in love with Ila and is always teaching her new things (works on signing with her) and cheering her on!  Did I mention Charlie loves her, too?

8.5 month Baby Summary Update {ww37 and babywise schedule}

As far as the WW is going … there is some fussing at sleep time and all around weirdness going on, but in the nest 3 weeks that should end.  *whew*

That is all of Ila’s 8month update I think … I *love* this stage! (minus the wonder week!)

What is your favorite “baby stage?”

Best Baby Swaddle Transition Blanket {week 27/6mo summary}

PERFECT swaddle blanket & 6.5 month baby summary {Quietinthechaos.com}

Ila is 6 and a half months old, and today (Thursday, March 19th) begins the 27th week of her life. She is still a happy, sweet, content baby girl. She is definitely the most sensitive of our children; Ila really watches your face for cues to see if you are happy or upset before she will smile or interact with you a lot. Lexie was a determined go-getter from the start; she wanted your attention and would scream across the room and be silly in order to get it. Max was much more moody, but not based on anyone else’s mood; his disposition was usually determined by how his tummy was feeling (reflux and colic), and if he had a full belly or not. Ila is going to be a sensitive, loving girl, and that is okay. =)

Development

In the past two weeks Ila has finally started working on all those skills her past wonder weeks prepared her for- she is more smoothly reaching for things, talking, and rolling from her back to her front. She wants to sit up all the time and is not content laying down. We are working on sitting up by herself, and I have a feeling it isn’t far from happening. She also like to kick and stand.

She has recently started playing in the bathtub, which is so cute. She kicks the tub and splashed everywhere. Her little baby legs are just covered in fat rolls, and she is the happiest thing you have ever seen.

We also have two teeth, and I think she is trying to get a third on the bottom? But I am not 100% sure yet. She loves to talk when she is by herself, but when her older siblings are around she mostly just watches in wonder and awe. She think they are hilarious and they both love to sit with a book and read to her. This morning (3/25/2015) she finally reached for the toys on the bouncer and discovered one plays music when she pulls it.

Eating

Ugh. I don’t know if it is the 6 month growth spurt, the 6 month overall regression, my milk supply dropping because I am walking, Ila getting teeth, or a combination of all the above, but the last two weeks she has been on somewhat of a nursing strike. =( My perfect nursing baby is now very opinionated on when she wants to nurse and when she does not. Unfortunately the last few days it has been more of the not, than the wants to. I am not sure what to do to encourage her, so I am going to start back on my fennel oil to help increase my supply, continue pumping twice a day, and always offer to nurse before solids or a bottle. So far, if I get her up and nurse in her bedroom, with it dark and the door shut she will nurse pretty well.

As soon as Ila wakes, we nurse, then take a bottle. At her 11:00 feeding we nurse, then she gets solids (wither avocado or applesauce in oatmeal), and then she takes a bottle.

First baby food {QuietInTheChaos.com}

She loves avocado!

The Miss is devouring solids, so we are probably going to start offering them at her 3:00 feeding as well, for a snack. (which is also why she doesn’t get them before nursing..) She opens her mouth and really enjoys eating now, her eyes get SO big when it is time for a bite, but sometimes she can’t seem to figure out when to open her mouth- it is really funny.

Once she decides she is ready to wean, I will use our homemade formula exclusively for her bottles. Hopefully we can continue nursing until 12 months.

Sleep

Ila was double swaddled until about 2 weeks ago- then my whole life changed for the better! She had been fighting the swaddle, and was getting one arm out in the middle of the night, sometimes managing to get both out (which woke up her early in the mornings). But no matter how hard I tried, she still would not sleep during the day with one arm out. So I decided to get the Love to Dream Swaddle-Up 50/50 blanket.

Swaddle Up- Sleep to Dream- This is the bEST swaddle transition blanket EVER

{photo from Amazon.com}

 

Do you hear that?

It is angels singing!

Oh my goodness, why did I wait so long to get this?! I wish I had bought it MONTHS ago. It is amazing. (and no one is paying me to tell you that!)

So the blanket is made of a stretchy knit material, that allows baby’s arms to be free in the swaddle, but also tight enough that they don’t wake themselves during sleep transitions! Then, on top of that, the little arms are UN-ZIPPABLE!

You read that right!

When baby is ready to roll over, or start the transition to one arm out of the swaddle, you just unzip that bad boy and there you go! A perfect transition- one arm out and one arm in, but able to move and go back to sleep at the end of a sleep cycle. It is perfect!

Yes she chews and suck on the fabric that is zipped on, but it is not problem. It is seriously the most perfect thing ever in the history of baby products. I will get one for every single person I know having a baby in the future!

I would have started her in this blanket at about 3.5-4 months old if I’d had it on hand.

Once Ila is a little bit older we will probably start to use one of the blankets that a friend who lives in Germany bought us. It was such a sweet and lovely gift. Our friend actually had a blanket custom made just for our little girl printed with photos of all of her family members so that she can always be close to them.

She told us that you can now FotoDecke mit Ihrem Foto, Text oder Design gestalten (design blankets using your own photos for those of you who do not speak German!) quickly and easily using some of the brilliant custom gift websites out there. I still cannot get over how cute this blanket is and I am so excited to put it to good use once Ila outgrows her current one.

Anyway, her sleep is usually great and I really do attribute that to the Love to Dream Swaddle.

So for now, our schedule looks like this (we JUST extended her first wake time to 1.75hrs):

  • 7am wake, nurse, bottle
  • 8:45 down for nap
  • 11:00 wake, nurse, solids, bottle
  • 12:45 down for nap (this will probably move to 1:00 soon)
  • 3:00 up, nurse, begin solids here soon, bottle
  • 4:45 down for cat nap (this will probably be 5:00 soon)
  • 6:15pm up, nurse, bottle, bed by 7
  • usually asleep by 7pm

This spring weather that started way early is amazing and Ila is really enjoying being outside. She hangs out in her bouncer, which my big helper Lexie takes outside for me. =)

Postpartum Update

As for a mama update- I am mostly good. Still working on healing my DR so I can move on to more intense workouts. I am just really taking it slow; it is hard because I want to jump right back in but I am telling you- my body feels SO MUCH BETTER since I stopped doing the wrong exercises! I cannot give enough praise for Fit2B.com- I will do a whole post on that another day.

But since starting my DR exercises, I can tell my TA (transverse abdominis) is getting stronger because my back no longer hurts as badly as it did. Your TA is the deepest ab muscle and wraps from your front to your spine; when you have back trouble and someone says you need to strengthen your core, this is the muscle you really should be working on.

Anyway, as my body heals I just feel better and better, even if I am not losing a ton of weight yet. This take priority right now. I have quite a bit of weight to lose, but don’t expect it to come off until Ila is done nursing.

I am not willing to stop nursing or go on a crazy strict diet and lose my supply while nursing, for the sake of losing weight. I figure, I am young, I won’t be fat forever and I only get to nurse my baby once. Some days I struggle with it, but I know this is what I want for both of us.

Emotionally I feel great- hormones don’t seem to be making me a crazy person right now (though that usually comes shortly after baby weans). We have been enjoying incredibly warm weather so at naps I have been laying out-Oh my goodness, REAL sunshine and vitamin D are some of God’s most wonderful gifts! I feel like a different person than I did in December just because of the sunshine.

So, that is it! Our 6.5 month update!

 

19 weeks Baby Summary {babywise}

Baby Summary 19 Weeks {QuietInTheChaos.com}

Well, tomorrow marks the beginning of Ila’s 20th week of life; we just finished week 19.  Oh my goodness!  She has two more weeks before she actually turns 5 months old, so I am using that as a way to console myself that she is already this old.  It is just going by so quickly.

Ila is simply a joy.  My oldest was a happy girl, but was colicky- gas, a little reflux, etc.  Mister was a bear of a baby (and still is)- very fussy, screaming with reflux, sensitive, didn’t nap well because of it, etc.  (they both have dairy sensitivities/allergies)

I think I sorta thought that babies = crying, gas, etc.

Boy was I wrong!  Next to “happy” in the dictionary should be a picture of Ila James!  (Provided I am dairy free, and she is too, so that is probably most of it.  She is able to eat and sleep well, and it just makes a HUGE difference.)  She is the baby that meets your eyes and just starts smiling for no particular reason except that you’re there!

She has gone through her wonder week 19- it was a doozy, and she got her first tooth during it!  It broke through a few days ago.  YAY!  As of now, her schedule looks like this:

  • 7am wake/nurse/bottle
  • 8:15am down for nap (soon to be 8:30 I think, some days she stays awake a while before falling asleep)  and she has decided this first nap is a great time to have a poopy diaper!
  • 11:00 wake, nurse, oatmeal with breast milk and applesauce, bottle
  • 12:15pm down (soon to be 12:30 I think), asleep by 1:00
  • 3:00pm up, nurse, bottle-soon to add solids here
  • 4:30pm down, asleep within a few minutes usually, sometimes asleep at 5pm
  • 7:00pm up, nurse, bottle
  • 7:40pm in bed, asleep
  • Sleeps until DWT of 7am

At 23 weeks there is another wonder week, and I imagine during or after that phase she will start trying to drop the third nap.  So at that time we will probably move dinner up to 6:15 or so, and bedtime up to 7pm.  Depending on her needs it may be even earlier than that.  (It always has been for my other two.)

19 week baby summary {QuietInTheChaos}

Development

During her waketimes, Ila is talking like crazy!  She discovered her voice this past week and she loves to talk.  Usually she does it if she is by herself in the living room, or pack n play. I have to sneak up on her to get it on video.  Usually once someone is there she gets quiet again.

She is trying to roll form her back to her belly, so that is fun.  She is almost there and can get twisted over on her side, but needs help to get all the way over.  And she has discovered her thumb … I am not thrilled about this; we already have one thumb sucker (Mister) to break eventually, so I am hoping this is just a phase since she found her hands and is able to get them to her mouth.  But I don’t want a pacifier either, since she sleeps fine without both I am just pretending like she isn’t doing it, and hoping she stops.  😉  (maybe she is just rubbing in the teeth?  There is another coming in.)

She is not reaching for things, like purposely. She wakes her arms a bit but has no interest in stuff around her or in front of her yet.

She hasn’t lost her hair yet, so maybe she won’t?  Lexie and Max both lost some; Ila just has a thin spot on the back where she sleeps.  I have to spry in conditioner and comb out the tangles a few times a week (there is just so much hair!).

Eating

So far, Ila is still a nursing champion.  She loves to nurse; she has started talking while she nurses.  Sometimes she just stops and looks up at me and babbles while milk pours out of her mouth.  It is pretty funny; then she will just smile and go back to nursing.  After practicing for a few weeks, she is finally taking food from a spoon.  I know she is young, and she doesn’t really need it.  However … this baby is nursing 15-20 minutes, then taking an 8 ounce bottle.  EIGHT OUNCES!  Every 4 hours … of a $45 per can formula.  Which equals $150 a month!  She has gone from going through one can in 10 days, to finishing a can in 6-7 days.  She is HUNGRY!  Plus, good fats are good for her.  I am going to give it another week of practicing with homemade oatmeal and breast milk, then start giving her soft boiled egg yolks.  She has had avacado and liked it.  Introducing her to good fats at 5 months isn’t going to hurt her or cause problems.  We will hold off on veggies, meats, and fruits for a while.  Solids aren’t needed right now, but because she is so hungry, I think healthy brain-power fats are fine.

 Sleep

Ila is still double swaddled to sleep for naps and bed time. Doubling swaddling is a great method for babies that can get out of the swaddle during sleep, but aren’t ready for their hands to be free yet.  I don’t think unswaddling her is far off, but I have tried SO MANY TIMES to transition her with one arm out, and it just disastrous.  So for now, she is still double swaddled and goes to sleep perfectly this way.  Once she starts rolling over this will for sure have to stop.

As for me, postpartum not much has changed.  I am getting sleep, so I’m a happy mama! I am working on healing my diastasis recti, which means no traditional exercises like crunches, or other things that are in most all of my workouts (T25, the 21 day fix workouts, BBL, or Turbo Fire).  I am using Fit2B.com to heal my DR and strengthen my transverse muscle FIRST, while I walk/run on the treadmill.

My mom and some others have asked how I knew I had the DR; I discovered I had DR a few ways- my back was constantly hurting.  Provided, I have been overweight for 2 years (since after I had Max), but I knew that wasn’t causing the pain.  Every time I worked out with any of my workout dvds I couldn’t get out of bed the next day, let alone walk, even after doing the modified moves. I also just couldn’t feel my abs anymore; after Ila there wasn’t even anything to flex.  When I came across DR, and tested for it, it was the most disgusting thing I have ever felt.  Basically, when you have a DR, your abs are split and you can put your fingers down between your abs.  How many fingers fit determines just how bad yours is.  Mine is 3-4 wide. *ewww*  I remember after Lexie my abs were split, but I don’t remember ever trying to “heal” them, I just sorta went on with life.  But this time I knew I had to do something. So, I signed up for Fit2B and I LOVE IT.  I am finally starting to feel my abs again, and although this isn’t going to burn 600 calories in 40 minutes, it is healing my body so I CAN eventually burn 600 calories in 40 minutes doing my favorite heavier exercises.  Exercises like crunches, planks, and basically every. single. move. in all my workout DVDs cause DR to worsen, not heal.  So for now, those are on the back burner.

But that is okay!  I am working on waking early in the mornings to get my workouts in (this is hit or miss, sometimes I have to fit them in during the day or before bed), but I feel good and eat good, so there you go.

And that is pretty much it!  Ila’s 19th week of life.  =)

Preparing for Labor Naturally

For this pregnancy and labor, I did some things I have done before to prepare, but I also added in a few new natural ways to stay healthy.

Natural, healthy labor and delivery

We all know it is so important to stay (or get) healthy during pregnancy. Here are a few things I did for this pregnayc, labor and delivery.

    • Third Trimester Tea– Beginning in my third trimester I started drinking *a lot* of Earth Mama Angel Baby Organic Third Trimester Tea. I like the taste, and drank anywhere from 1-4 cups a day.
    • Get plenty of rest– I got plenty of sleep. My husband joked about how I was in bed 18 hours out of the day … it is quote possible I was. I slept from 8:30 until 7 in the morning (most days), took naps when my children did (for 1-3 hours, and laid down in bed at 7 when the kids went down. This was mostly because I couldn’t sit comfortably with a baby in my ribs, but I probably would have slept that much anyway!
    • Exercise– honestly, I didn’t exercise this pregnancy like I did with my others. When I had the time I didn’t have the energy. I know exercise gives you more energy, but not when you have first trimester nausea and extreme exhaustion, or can barely move in the third trimester. I did walk to the park a lot with the kids, and in my second trimester I did quite a bit of at home work outs. But nothing as intense or regular as my first two pregnancies.
    • Eat well– Eating lots of healthy fats won’t make you fat (unless you coat them in sugar…). Healthy fats help every part of your body and baby’s development. From brain function to hormone production, healthy fats like organic farm raised eggs, avocado, coconut oil, grass fed butter, and natural peanut butter, make for a healthy pregnancy and baby! I ate a *lot* of eggs, and still do.
    • Fermented Drinks and Foods– Fermented drinks like water kefir and Kombucha are so good for your gut and immune system; they are especially beneficial to baby’s gut and developing immune system. I drank lots of kombucha with mint this summer, and we enjoyed our homemade fermented kraut, kimchi, and veggies all summer as well.
    • Cod Liver Oil, Iron, and Folate– I personally chose not to take a pre natal vitamin. I made this decision because typical prenatals are full of synthetic vitamins that the body does not absorb or process well. And also, because I couldn’t find one I liked with folate instead of folic acid. Typically though, my friend recently showed me a supplement similar to this l-methylfolate 15 mg, which includes folate. Anyway, I’m not getting pregnant again to try it, haha! So, folic acid is the synthetic, man made version of folate. Folate is the actual supplement you need for baby’s development- not synthetic folic acid. So I chose to take a pure folate supplement, and raw liver pills I made at home. I am always anemic, and most iron supplements cause constipation and are not readily absorbed in the body. I chose to buy grass fed, organic beef livers (from a local source I know and *trust*) and cut them into pills. I froze them on a cookie sheet and stored in the freezer for a few weeks. Then I took a few of them at a time, frozen, when I felt I needed an iron boost. The last supplement I took was cod liver oil, because of all the healthy benefits it provides through vitamins A and D.
    • Gentle Birth Formula– I will say, I believe this had the BIGGEST impact on labor and delivery for me. My water broke at 2:30pm, active labor/my contractions started at regular intervals 4 minutes apart, at 4:00pm. When I got to the hospital at 6:00pm I was 5-6cm! This has NEVER happened to be before; I have longer (12+hours) labors. This baby was born at 9:49, and was here in 4 pushes. It was seriously a 5 hour labor start to finish, from the beginning of contractions. And though I did cave and get an epidural at 7 cm, until that point labor was very manageable; not fun, but manageable. I truly believe this tincture helped my body prepare for labor. *it does have blue cohosh in it, but you can purchase the tincture without it*
    • Water, Water, Water!-I think it speaks for itself, but lots of water! I keep two bottles in the fridge and down one at a time; when one is empty I refill it and start on the other.

And that’s it! Those are the things I did this pregnancy to prepare my body for labor and delivery, and have a healthy baby. What do you do to prepare your body for pregnancy, labor, and delivery?

Disclaimer: I am NOT a health professional and this is not health advice. Please talk with your doctor/midwife before making medical and health decisions.

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