Thursday, September 6, 2012

Kickin' Off a New School Year!

September, already! I just cannot seem to get on top of this has truly flown by! And I know it is not going to slow down anytime soon. Fall is our busy time and it is also my favorite time of the year, so I will embrace it, grab hold, and hang on for the ride! I've always started school after Labor Day! Just seems wrong to start in August...that's still summer! I like to ease back into our schedules and make the first day extra special. This year my surprise was cinnamon rolls with each child's grade level candle on top! Absolutely hard to believe we started our 9th year! Here's the line-up... Katelyn, 8th, Cason, 5th, Carrie, 2nd, Chloe, PK [she got a 0 on her cinnamon roll and loved it!]. And Carter turned one, on September 1, so he is officially a toddler, but he's still a BABY as far as we are concerned! I also gave each child some 'new school year' presents. 

It was a JOYful morning and the kids were very surprised! 

After our celebration...the kids were ready to get started!

My 'new school year present' is my new classroom!! Have you seen it?? Go take a LOOK...I hope it inspires you!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The ~Home~ Birth of Carter Pierce

Maternity pics!

A few days ago, Carter turned 6-months-old, so I needed to get his birth story posted! Time seems to stand still the last few weeks/days of your pregnancy and then once the baby is born...time flies! I'm trying to cherish these fleeting moments!
This is the story of our sweet baby Carter...In early August 2010, I wrote 'Faith or Fear' in my quiet time journal. I felt God was preparing me for something big, but I was not sure what it would be. I had been praying for many months that we would be blessed with another child. At 41-years-old, my hubby was not quite sure it was a good, safe idea. I asked God to change my husband's heart or change my desire for another child, which was very strong! I wanted God's will, no matter what. I continued to pray and He changed my husband's heart! One day, my hubby said, "we need another baby" and within a few months [December 2010] we found out we were expecting! My pregnancy was my best yet! I felt good throughout and time flew by! In April, 2011 we found out we were having a boy! Oh, JOY! We named him Carter. I like to name my children early, so I can call them by name. Early on I began to research V-BAC [vaginal birth after c-section], because I had two prior c-sections and I did NOT want another! I was determined to not be cut again! My first three were born natural [no drugs!] and vaginal and that was my preference. The more research I did, the more I realized my chances of having a V-BAC at the hospital, at least in our area, was low. And the more I read, the more I learned about the home birth option. I have many friends that have had their babies at home, so I knew all the wonderful advantages of it, but I was not sure if it was the best idea for me. I prayed, a lot, and read many articles and books. I truly felt God was leading us to this option, the words 'Faith or Fear' kept coming to my mind. OH...this is what He was preparing me for! Okay, I'll TRUST you, Lord!  After going to a OB/GYN Dr. for two visits, I found a wonderful midwife and stopped going to the Dr. I absolutely loved going to my prenatal cold office, no waiting, no rushing...Lucy (my midwife) was always ready to see me and she was in no hurry. We would sit and chat on her comfy couches and then she would feel the baby, measure me, and listen to baby's heartbeat (all done on a comfy bed). I often brought my other four children to the appointments, so they could hear the baby's heartbeat. Lucy had plastic replicas of the baby at each week, so she would let my littles hold the little baby near my tummy and we would talk about how big Carter was getting. So special!  

LOVED this pregnancy!

These appointments made me 100% sure of our decision to home birth...such a contrast from the Dr.'s office visits! It was a whole family experience...this baby was our baby and we were all preparing for his birth! Weeks continued to fly by and I made it to 39 weeks, still feeling incredible! I was not sleeping as well the last few weeks, but overall I still felt great. I was just ready to meet my baby! Every night I would go to bed thinking "Is this the night?" and I would wake that morning a little disappointed. Looking back, this was such a special time for me...I clung to Jesus, read scripture, and prayed a lot! My main verse throughout this pregnancy was Colossians 1:17 "He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together." I did not fear my uterus rupturing because I knew God would 'hold it together'. It was God's  strength that got me through the last few weeks and days of 'waiting'. Waiting on God is never easy, but His timing is always perfect! I thought Carter would be an August baby, but he was not. 

During the 'waiting' time...having fun with my other 4!

September 1st felt a little different. I knew today was going to be the day. Not because I was having any 'true' labor signs, but I just had a feeling. I did not sleep well and woke often to contractions and lots of pressure. I had a strange dream that I went to the hospital and they would not let me leave (more like a nightmare!). I called my midwife, Lucy, at 11:30am and asked if she would come check me. I just wanted to know if I was making any progress with the irregular contractions. She came over at about 12:30 and checked me. I was 1cm [sigh]. She left at about 2pm and said to get some rest because it might be a long night. I tried to nap, but I could not sleep due to excitement. At 2:30pm my contractions started to pick up again and I asked Hubby to start timing them. By 3pm they were 3 minutes apart and lasting 1 minute each! They were coming faster and stronger, so we sent Lucy a text. She said she was on her way back over. I also sent my sweet friend, [and amazing photographer], Emily, a text so she could come take photos of the birth. Once Lucy got to our house, I asked if I could get in the water (we had a birthing tub set up in our room). I was starting to hurt and wanted a little relief. She said yes, but wanted to check me one more time.  I was a 6!! Finally, progress!! I got in the water, sat down, and immediately felt relaxed. I literally felt Carter descend and it was only 15-20 minutes later when I felt the urge to push! Katelyn, my oldest daughter, came into the room to check on me and I told her to go get Lucy! Lucy came in and coached me through the pushing stage. I held tight to Greg, squeezed his hand and bit his arm with each contraction. It was not painful...just VERY intense with all the pressure. I did not feel much. The water was amazing and helped so much. Three good pushes (working with my body) and Carter was out!! His head was out and then the contractions slowed enough for me to catch my breath. With the next contraction the rest of his tiny body came out and Lucy placed him on my chest...oh, JOY! Look at this precious little thing! It was the most incredible experience of my life! Katelyn and my mom came in the room right before he was born, so they got to see it. Cason, Carrie, & Chloe came in the room right after  he was born and they were SO excited to see their new brother! What a precious moment! Emily captured it all with her amazing photos! I took a fresh, herb bath with Carter. It was so peaceful and relaxing. Carter nursed right away! I tried to soak in all the pure was quite overwhelming. While Lucy checked Carter and weighed him [8 lbs on the dot!], I took a nice shower. Then the whole family got on our big bed and stared at our newest member. I cannot with words describe the raw emotion that washed over me at that Carter was here at last. 

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
Brother love!
Brand new!

was just perfect. This is my sixth baby and first home birth, I wish I would have had a home birth with all of them! Until you experience it yourself, there is just no way to describe how different and how awesome it is to have your child in your own home. 

I'm thankful God allowed me to TRUST Him and to choose FAITH over FEAR! 

"O LORD, how great are Your works!" Psalm 92:5
Carter meeting his new family...BEST moment ever!
Carter Pierce is here! 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Real, Whole Food~ Homemade Yogurt & Mayo!

We are on a 'real food' journey in our home. We are slowly moving toward eating only real, whole food that promotes health in our bodies. Moving completely away from processed foods. We have never been a 'junk food' family, so the changes are not drastic. However, we have decided to start making some of our regularly consumed foods from scratch, e.g., bread. My hubby started making our bread about 6 months ago. He has it down now...the consistency is amazing and it taste so yummy!! The health benefits of making your own bread our HERE. It is hard for me to eat store bought bread now, even the 'healthy' kind. 

I have wanted to try homemade yogurt for a long time. I have fond childhood memories of my mom's delicious homemade yogurt! I'm sure I'm not alone here, didn't EVERY 70's kitchen have a  yogurt maker?   I think it came standard, like the avocado-green dishwasher. Ours looked like the one above (I know someone else is saying, "YES!"). Seeing this picture makes me feel fuzzy and warm's amazing how pictures can instantly trigger our memories!

Anyway, on my quest to find a good yogurt maker, I came across a recipe for 'crock-pot yogurt' and I got so excited that I squealed! Crock-pot?!...I can do that ~! I asked my hubby if his mom made yogurt and he quickly said yes [he, too, grew up in the 70s], but he thought it was disgusting. Perhaps his mom should have called my mom! ;)

I found the recipe HERE.  I was a little hesitate, perhaps skeptical, to try it because it seemed too easy...could it be good? But that's a silly reason to not try something, so one day this past week I decided to go for it!  And boy am I glad I did! It was to set for 8+ hours, so I made it late in the day and left it sitting out overnight. I woke early and could hardly wait to 'test taste' it. The results were perfectly amazing! My consistency was a little thinner than I wanted, so I drained out the whey [using a colander and coffee liner]. I ended up with wonderful, thick greek-style yogurt! And as a hubby used the whey to make homemade mayonnaise! 

Turns out you can do a LOT with whey. It's very healthy...full of protein, vitamins, minerals, & enzymes! The Prairie Homestead, another blog I love, gives you 16 ways to use whey! And this is the homemade recipe for mayo:

2-3 egg yolks (farm fresh are best!)
½ tsp. mustard
1-2 Tbsp. lemon juice 
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. white wine vinegar
1 tsp. celtic sea salt
¾ c. oil- hemp or grapeseed (I use grapeseed)
2 Tbl. whey

1. Combine everything EXCEPT the oil into a container large enough for your stick blender to go into. *You will need a stick blender for this recipe (you can make it in a food processor, but it's a LOT harder and the results are not as good). It's a great kitchen tool that I put off buying for a long time, now I can hardly live without it and I wish I would have got it sooner! 
2. Use your stick blender to mix until creamy.
3. While blending, add the oil in small (teaspoon at a time) increments and mix until it’s homogenized. Pour oil with one hand and with the other lift the blender up and down as it’s blending- the quick up and down motion helps the mixture to homogenize, and it will thicken right up. That's it! 
Important: Leave out on the counter for 7 hours to make it lacto fermented (friendly bacteria)...the lactobacillus probiotics in the whey will multiply and change the mayo from a simple condiment into a probiotic!  After the 7 hours, store in the refrigerator.  It will last for several months with whey and about 2 weeks without.

Please note: my recipe does not include partially hydrogenated soybean oil and phosphoric acid! Thank goodness!! ;)


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

2012 Booklist

My theme for 2012 is '12 for 12', so guess how many books are on my book list? 22! I guessed 12, right? So why 22? Well, today is February 1st and my goal is to read 2 books each month, so that makes 22; simple!

Here's my LIST on Pinterest, which gives a picture of each book. 

To make my list attainable, I've placed 2 books in each month:
1. Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes
2. 21 Days to a More Disciplined life
1. Tell Your Time
2. A Praying Life
1. Born to Run
2. Boundaries with Kids
1. The No-Cry Sleep Solution
2. Getting Things Done
1. The Money Saving Mom's Budget
2. Raw Milk Revolution
1. A Charlotte Mason Companion
2. For the Children's Sake
1. Pocketful of Pinecones
2. Real Learning
1. Dancing with My Father
2. The Mom Walk
1. Crazy Love
2. Organized Simplicity
1. Calm My Anxious Heart
2. Good Health
1. Becoming A Woman of Influence
2. Raising Great Kids

Charlie "Tremendous" Jones said, 

    "You are the same today as you'll be in five years except for two things: the books you read and the people you meet."

So make that list and get to reading! 

EnJOY! ~Kristi

12 for 12 ~Goals for the New Year!

12 for 12! That is my plan for 2012!

Every year I set goals for the new year and they always seem to be too big and too broad, (e.g. never yell at my kids, run a half marathon, and eat ONLY organic food). And while it is perfectly fine to 'think big' and dream,  it does no good if you become overwhelmed and give up. This year I will use two words to streamline  my goals: simple and attainable. These are the two words that guided my goals below.  I concentrated on four areas of my life and included three goals in each area; simple. And I'm building on and strengthening habits that already have a foundation; attainable.

Ready? Here are my 12 goals for 2012:

1. Quiet time [Bible reading, prayer, journal] (30 min.) & other reading (30 min.),  each morning. [I already wake early and  have a quiet time, but I want to work on consistency and add the reading time].
2. Read 2 books/ month that encourage my 4 'life areas' (2012 Book List).
3. Blog 2X week to 'scrapbook' our life.

Family Relationships [people living in my house]:
1. Date night w/ Hubby every 2 weeks [put in budget]
2. Monthly 'birthday' dates w/ each child (rotate 2 children/ month for Greg & I)
3. Weekly family game or movie night.

1. Use the 'Couch Potato to 5K' plan to train & run a 5K with Katelyn.
2. Pilates 2X a week at gym.
3. Eat more fruit & veggies: Using the 'Dirty Dozen' & 'Clean 15' Lists!

Home Learning:
1. Monthly field trips.
2. Weekly Nature Study.
3. FIAR [Five In A Row] w/ my littles (2 books/month)

So that's my plan! My next step is to break each goal down for each month, week, & day. If I break it all down into tiny, bite-sized steps I will be able to reach each goal. Again, I will be striving for simple and attainable. I'm currently reading the '21 Days To A More Disciplined Life' series by Money Saving Mom and she says,
To intentionally cultivate discipline in your life, you must have goals. Not just dreams, not just lofty ambitions, but specific, realistic, achievable goals. If you don’t know where you’re aiming, you’ll lack direction and purpose." 
That really hit me, because I usually write down my dreams and good intentions, but I have never written my 'ambitions' down as specific, realistic, achievable goals.  How about you? Think of 4 areas and write out 3 goals for each OR 3 areas with 4 goals...either way you will end up with 12 for 12! EnJOY!