Thursday, October 31, 2013

Huge praise!

This may be a bit premature, but it looks as if Jed's medical savings card (for his growth hormone) will be renewed!  This is a huge praise as the monthly copay for his medicine was going to be a huge hit against our budget.  His pharmacy called last night to put through his next order, and I was told we had to pay for the copay.  I told them I had to call back as I was not sure which card we were going to use (we have benefits card and our regular bank card...both of which come out of the paycheck).  When I called back this morning the agent told me that our savings card was supposed to be active until the 30th of this month, so when they called yesterday it was supposed to still be active.  That alone was great news, but then he asked if we had re-enrolled in the program.  Re-enroll?  No.  We didn't know that option was open to us.  So a few phone calls later and it looks like Jed will be re-enrolled into the savings program!  We'll know for sure by this afternoon, but the woman I spoke to thought it was pretty much a done deal.

Totally not related, but yesterday marked week 28, I am now officially in the third trimester!  A couple of prayer requests for those willing to pray....1. This baby has been enjoying the transverse position the *WHOLE* pregnancy.  This is a concern, seeing as what we went through with Aubrey.  A lot of the problem is that there is still plenty of wiggle room due to this being pregnancy #8, and some, um, lax stomach muscles.  Please pray that this baby will find the head down position more comfortable in the next few weeks!  Not only head down BUT also facing the correct repeat of a posterior baby, PLEASE!!!!  2. Between being busy, and feeling or fighting sickness (that basically presents itself as overall body weakness), I have not been keeping up with exercising.  It has only been about 2 and a half weeks, but it really shows!  I am trying to get back into it, and I am having to start off slow.  I really can't believe you can get that out of shape so quickly!  Ugh.  I need to stay active and strong for delivery.  And yes, delivery pretty much consumes a majority of my thoughts these days.

Hoping to take a picture of my expanding belly soon :-)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

How things have been

Well, I wish I could say that we are accomplishing all I had hoped we would, but that doesn't seem to be the case.  But, that is ok.  We've had plenty to be thankful for over the past few weeks, along with a few blips.  I was finally able to make up our new schedule, that will include: no milking, Isabella's horse work/lesson time changes, and putting Jonah on the 'must be schooled' line up.  We were supposed to start on it yesterday.  However, there were other things that needed tending to.  I had to prepare for being gone yesterday evening, and then I returned to a few sick kids.  I knew it was coming as Isabella had a sore throat, runny nose, etc.  But now, all three boys have runny noses.  Nothing bad, but it seemed to disturb Jed greatly in the middle of the night.  I didn't get much sleep!  Trying to rest/sleep-in didn't work either.  Oh, well, I suppose I will be hitting the hay early tonight.

Along with our regular daily things, and the need to plan for this coming baby, I am also trying to plan for some other activities, learning times.  For example, we are need of some herbal tinctures.  My first go to is homeopathy, but I still have a lot to learn to get the right remedy each and every time, so herbs are our back up.  I would really like to get a couple of books, but that won't be possible.  So I get to spend more time searching the web for herbal recipes.  I have found a few, but trying to organize things seems to be impossible lately. 

We really, really, *really* need to get back to stocking up our food storage.  After months, and months of having to cut back, we have to cut back yet again for another pay check.  Which I know I really should just assume will be forever more at this point, to not get my hopes up.  But, this is going to be very hard to do since we ran out of a lot of things this past pay period.  Not major things, but lots of little things.  And I already know that those little things add up.  Sigh.  It can be so discouraging to read of others experiences, and tips, and this point there isn't anything more I can do to make room in the budget to get caught up.  Very frustrating.  Even with what seems to be a no win situation, I need to think outside the box to see if I am missing something.  Because I really can't just sit by and feel helpless.

UGH!  In the couple of minutes it took me to type...Aubrey redecorated our living room floor with paint (he was trying to paint on paper and didn't quite keep it there).  Our boys are exceedingly destructive.  I have to balance doing work around the house, and cleaning up the aftermaths of the hurricane/tornadoes they create.

Anyways, as I was saying, there is just lots to do around here.  Big and small.  We need to get a light in with the chickens asap.  With 30+ chickens we are getting a whopping 3 eggs (if we are lucky!) a day.  Not a good return on our investment in chicken feed!  We need to breed our two oldest goats in the next coming weeks.  The baby goats are still too small for our liking to be bred this year.  They have really picked up growth since we send someone out to fend off the chickens, who were eating their food!  Silly goats.  They would just let the chickens take over.  Our adult females would never let that happen :-)  But finally the baby goats are filling out and up.  We will be trying to space the breeding so we don't have all the babies born at the same time.  Way too stressful for me! 

We really need to find a good time to work on gardening and the off site fruit orchard.  I think because we don't *have* to absolutely rely on them, they seem to take second place, or 6th or 10th!  But, really, with food prices rising, a large percent of the USA's meat cattle being wiped out, and the usual, we *need* to see it as a necessity.  I was talking with a friend the other day about gardening and she was saying up North they had an amazing garden. Tons of stuff growing, huge harvests, etc.  But down here, she said the soil is just soooo bad.  I started thinking of my dad's, grandfather's gardens and the lush gardens of some bloggers I follow.  By golly, they all live in the North!  Here we have an amazing growing season (length wise), yet horrid soil.  So, my plans, which I have had on a list for the past 3 years (!!!) to really make it our chief goal to obtain, and make our own compost really needs to be the priority list right now. We had great success with our first garden here in the South, but we used the double digging method, and due to the all clay soil, we put in a TON (not literally) of compost to make it usable.  Our soil on this land isn't filled with clay, and so we put a few inches of mulch on top of the yard. That has not been cutting it.  At first we thought the mulch we had lay down may be inhibiting growth, but I've seen plenty of success with other people's gardens that use that method. I am now thinking it is because the soil is just bad.  So we need to think of building soil, instead of building a garden.  Hoping that made sense.

I am hoping to one day actually start taking pictures again.  My favorite lens broke, and then my second lens, which I don't care for broke.  It is still usable in manual focus mode, but that makes it very difficult to capture anything that is my children :-)  But I do miss documenting our days with photos.  Everyone grows so fast that I don't want to let months and months and months go by without snapping some pictures.  I suppose I will need to see what I can do with my manual focus only lens since a fix, or a new lens isn't in the picture right now (yes, pun intended!). 

Alrighty, after Aubrey just made another mess... I need to scoot and get some things done.  Maybe I should make, find some duct tape be on my top to do list?  Ha, ha!

(sorry for any typos, don't have time to read through)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A MUST storage

I am jumping on here for just a wee bit to share a really amazing series that The Welcoming House is having on food storage.  I highly recommend checking it out.  Currently I do not believe she has a direct link to the series itself, so I am just going to link up to her main page.  I think she is on day 4 or 5 of the series as of today.  In the most current post she has links to the other previous posts, so do check them out in order.

We have been slack in the food storage area most of this year!  Not a good thing, to be sure.  We really can not rely on one big purchase a year in hopes to build up our supply.  Don't get me wrong, it is a great start, and we really have made a dent.  Recently, though, we have had a few months of having to really cinch the pocket book in the grocery department.  That left us using a lot of the foods we had stored, and our food storage took a really big hit.  If you are doing food storage a little at a time, it really does add up!!  When we first started I thought we would never reach a decent supply...EVER!  But, month after month of buying those few extras really paid off.  At least until we had to not only stop buying a few extras each pay period, but then having to eat the things we already had stored.  Sigh.  But, I can be thankful we were able to cut back because we DID have food set aside.  I am praying we can pick up where we left off.

Anyways, check out the series, and let me know what you thought about it.  Are you building a food storage?  I think my main goal for the moment is to really plan out a catch up plan, and to be diligent and purposeful about it.  In the past I would just pick up a bit of this or that that I hadn't picked up in a while to add to our stock.  Don't get me wrong, it worked, I didn't have too much of any one item, but I would really like to make a bit of a plan to make sure we stay balanced.

Our computer break isn't totally over yet.  We've had some time here or there where we've been on, but we are still working out way to getting our work done in a timely manner...on a daily basis :-)

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Going off line for a bit

It is time again for me to take a bit of a computer break.  We try to take a couple of those a year.  It seems now is the time for our family to refocus.  I have a lot that I do online, as far as classes, and the kids I won't be gone for too long :-)  But just so you know that I have not dropped off the face of the earth, all is well.

Speaking of well, I think I FINALLY kicked my sinus infection!  Yay!!  And it was the fermented foods!!!  Trust me after consistently taking over 160 billion strength for months now, and still having sinus issues....well it wasn't the pills that got me over it :-)  This last infection came very close to sending me in to get antibiotics, because nothing was working!  Nothing, until I started with the kefir, kombucha, and (finally) my fermented salsa and cabbage concoctions.  So I am hoping that I will remain well until I return to this space again in a few weeks.

Have a blessed day!

8 is Great...Post Partum Help

I would insert my little 8 is Great graphic, but I don't have access to it at this moment.

It may seem a bit premature to be thinking about the post partum period, but nothing could be further from the truth!  I've written, long ago, about some ideas for this time after the baby.  I thought I would just write about my plans for after this baby's arrival.

I will say, with my olders getting older, the post partum time gets easier.  At least, after Aubrey, we didn't have what looked to be a tornado having gone through our house, like the 6 post partums before him.  I am convinced it is because everyone is older and able to help more.  I suppose it had nothing to do that I threatened life and limb should I find the house in such an order when I was back on my feet :-)  No, no, I am sure that had nothing to do with it.

This time around, since we are trying to catch up on schooling, I will probably have a simple schedule that gives each child some schooling time, to at least keep up with the basics after the first week of the baby's arrival.  I won't be writing that up for another two months as I want to see how Jed and Jonah are doing in their daily school to see what the girls will be able to handle, and what I will be able to handle.  It would be easy to give a phonics lesson as I sit and nurse the newborn, for example. 

We are still having some issues with chores getting done when they are supposed to get done.  I've made up some consequences for those times, but right after I made them up I got sick.  And then sick again.  And, well, needless to say I have yet to institute the new system, though I have no doubt it will be key in getting things done when they need to.  After the baby is born I will not be able to go around inspecting, and watching over to make sure everything got done as it should.  And I can tell you it is the little things that go undone that really, really add up after a few days to make my house a wreck.  Since I am starting to finally feel better I plan on getting on top of this issue NOW, so as to make our time after baby go much more smoothly. 

Having some new activities to do can really go a long way as well.  Simple things like a new coloring book, or board game.  I think I will try to find a couple of new card games for the girls to try out.  The boys really enjoy some of the learning books I've made them in the past.  I may try to make up a couple of new ones for them.  With this baby coming on the heels of Christmas and Aubrey's birthday, finances will be tight.  So I need to come up with cheap ideas :-)  

I've written on the importance of having meals made up in advance.  This makes SUCH a HUGE difference in those hectic evenings with a newborn.  You are recovering physically, possibly emotionally, caring for a needy newborn, still having to manage the household, and keeping up with the other kiddos, that the thought of having to plan out dinner come 5 PM??!!!???  Just NOT happening, at least not with ease.  So I've pulled out my pen and paper and have been planning our meals that will be at the ready for this special time.  I basically plan for a whole months worth of meals.  Yes, that is a lot.  Which is why I start now.  I need to start buying ingredients each pay period so as to not try to buy one months groceries in one paycheck.  

This year will be a wee bit different since we are still on modified GAPS.  Though, I do have a few items that will be made with sprouted wheat, since who can deny the ease of pulling out a muffin to snack on :-)  I am hoping that by then, with all the ferments I will be adding to our diet soon, we will be able to handle those without issue.  I have a lot of items I plan on canning this year, due to our need of precooked beans and meats.  I do plan on freezing some precooked meats as well, but nothing beats opening a jar and throwing in your needed meat, without having to wait for it to defrost.  Without a microwave, defrosting means having to plan ahead, and I am trying to avoid such scenarios in the post partum period.

Here is my meal plan that I have been working on:

egg bake
egg burritos


Salads (taco, chicken, bean, etc.)
pita sandwiches (egg, hummus, tuna, etc.)
soups (stew, chicken/squash/beef tomato)

shepherd's pie
spaghetti beans and rice
chicken and black beans over rice
cheeseburger rice
baked beans and corn bread
beef cubes with gravy over rice
black beans and rice
chicken enchiladas

Some of the above are not meant to be made ahead of time, like oatmeal, eggs and popcorn. But this will all be put on a posted list so everyone knows what options we have.  Some items, like chili will be frozen in it's finished state, while others, like black beans and rice will not.  I will probably can some black beans, and have a jar of 'black beans and rice seasoning' made up.  The rice will be frozen in the quantities we need for each meal. So some assembly will be required, but for all of those, my girls are capable of doing so if I am unable to. They would just need to set out the rice to thaw as they warm up the black beans and seasonings in a pan.  

I also plan on jarring (not canning) up a bunch of ferments.  The great thing about fermented foods is that they keep well for months in the fridge.  And, though they are easy to make, there is a bunch of slicing/dicing/chopping to be had with some of them.  So some will be made in their fullness, like sauerkraut, kimchi and salsa, while others will be done partially. For example, I plan on fermenting some garlic to be added to our hummus.  Hummus can be made on the fly if the chickpeas are precooked and canned.  The kefir will need to be made daily, though one of the older girls can handle that, since kefir is so easy to make.  The kombucha only needs to be made weekly, and again, an older girl can accomplish this task.  The only issue will be to remind them that it needs to be made :-)  

I still have to find someone who can be here for the kids when I am in labor.  Though Isabella and Moira can babysit, they want to see the baby being born.  So we need another helper to be here to watch the others who do not wish to see the grand entrance of their new sibling.

As far as the items I need on hand after the baby is born?  Well, those seem to get more simplified with each child I have :-)  It is funny to me to think of what I *thought* I needed after my first was born!  I am sure you've all seen those lists of 'needed' items.  But we keep it simple. Really simple.  A car seat, some clothing and diapers/wipes, the baby bathtub (we've had for years and years), our noise maker, and a baby carrier/wrap.  I think that is it!  We have a ton of newborn clothing for a girl or boy.  Though I do worry about the quality of the baby girl clothing since it has been in storage for 9 years!  Oh my.  Since we don't have temperature control storage things tend to start to deteriorate after a time.  The last time I went through the clothing (2 years ago) I had to throw out some items since they didn't withstand the elements (heat and cold).  But I am confident that there will be enough to see us through should we be blessed with a girl.  

Those are my plans.  All the prep work will definitely pay off, though I am wondering how I am going to fit it all in, in the here and now :-)

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Cutting Costs

I remember writing, long ago, about some plans we were going to try implementing to save some money.  The problem was that I didn't have the energy to keep up with the changes.  Well, since the magnesium has given me my life back (ok, so that is a little dramatic), I am happy to report that we are finally having success with cutting costs here on the home front.

We haven't implemented all of our ideas yet, as some will take longer to incorporate, while others are just waiting their turn for us to get to.  I didn't want to bite off more than I could chew.  Jeremiah was convinced that our efforts were going to be a waste of our time, since our starting efforts were going to be 'small' but manageable.  Well, we just got our energy bill in last week, and let's just say we were all impressed!!  So impressed that a couple of the girls who were slacking a bit in helping in our endeavors really jumped in all the way this week.

So far the only changes we have made were to shut off the AC, and hang out our clothing to dry.  That's it.  By doing those two things we saved 100 dollars on our energy bill last month!  That is no small change!  The money kind of change :-)

We still have a few tricks up our sleeves to incorporate.  We won't have too much time left to be free of our AC/heating unit, as the colder weather will be (eventually) making its way to us.  But our plan of action will be to keep the temperature in the house colder than normal.  NOT cold, just colder than we normally have it set to.  I always thought it wrong to be walking around in shorts and t-shirts in the middle of January.  It *is* winter after all, and keeping the house temperature set to such a high level as to be able to go around in t-shirt and shorts takes *money*.  I'm just not willing to shell out that kind of money for that kind of experience.  Though, for years, I have been in the minority :-)  But, the girls all want to see that money go to other uses, so we are gearing up to be wearing pants (imagine that!), sweaters and socks around the house.  The only exception is when I go into labor this January.  I will definitely turn up the heat for that event, and the week following.  But really, our babies are always being held, and I've never had a problem with keeping a baby warm.  So a week of an extra warm house will be all that is needed.

A few more of our ideas are to keep lights/fans/computers off when not in use.  I am hoping that we will be able to turn on the computers for a set amount of time each day, then shut them down.  We have been working on the lights issue, but it is taking some time for us all to remember shutting them off when we leave the room.  I am notorious for keeping our bedroom fan running all day, when all we use it for is at night for bedtime.

We are being more careful with our food, so as not to waste any. But, again, we have a ways to go.  But I tell the kids that whenever we have to throw out stuff that has gone yucky, it is like throwing away money.  Moira has noticed that she doesn't have the constant urge to eat all day since drinking the kefir and kombucha.  I think we will see the 'hunger' issue go down with the rest of the crew as well.  The "I'm hungries" are really getting out of hand over here.  I know that means it's because they are not absorbing their food properly, and not getting the nutrients they need, thus their constant hunger.  In the previous post I talked about making more of my ferments for everyone to have enough each day.  With ferments though, you need enough starter or in the case of kefir or kombucha, you need enough grains or scobies.  My new kefir grains should be arriving in a few days, and my kombucha has grown enough to make 2 gallons a week (though we need more like 4 gallons, we'll get there, slowly but surely).

We have a few other ideas as well, but I think that is enough for now.  The rest will come in time.  It has been encouraging to see that our efforts are really making a difference.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Kefir Success!

I've written about drinking kefir in the past.  I've always had success with making the actual kefir.  The drinking of it though, well, not as much. We always had to use some kefir (2 cups) in a full blender of smoothie to make it drinkable.  But, now I found out the 'secret' to being able to drink kefir with just a small amount of flavoring :-)  You do a second fermentation with the kefir and some fruit.  Wow, the sourness really goes down.  On top of that the kefir is nice and tangy/fizzy. It kind of feels like it is doing a dance on your tongue.

Since my kefir grains are only making about 3 cups of kefir a day I am having to fend off small children to get my share!  Since we are all in need of some serious good bacteria over here, I went ahead and ordered MORE kefir grains!  It was going to take a while for me to be able to make the gallon of kefir we will need...*daily*!

On top of fending off small children from the kefir I am having an even harder time keeping them away from the kombucha.  Oy!  Don't get me wrong, they all get some each day, but since I am currently only making about 3 quarts a week, that doesn't last long enough for everyone.  I worked out how much kefir and kombucha I wanted each person to have daily. For the kefir, for everyone to have enough daily, plus there being some to gather whey from (to make my fermented veggies), I will need to make 8 gallons of kefir a week!  Too bad that we will be drying up our goats next week.

I worked out that I need to make 4 gallons of kombucha a week.  That will give enough for everyone to have daily, plus the extra for starting the next week's batches.  Thankfully kombucha will be cheaper to make :-)

To compensate for the increase in milk purchasing we will be doing over the next handful of months, I will not be ordering my probiotic pills after the ones I have run out.  This way we will ALL benefit from the probiotics we need, without breaking the bank.

As it is Moira and I are seeing changes from the kefir and kombucha.  Isabella is starting to, but for her, she is getting worse in some areas (like her anxiety), but better in others.  She was very upset by this.  I told her it was a good sign.  The bad bacteria were being killed off, but in the process their toxins will make her anxiety worse.  I gave her some suggestions to limit the effects, hopefully they will be helpful to her.

I am hoping to buy some of the flip top bottles to make our kombucha nice and fizzy.  I think that will be fun.   In the meantime I will continue with using our mason jars.  Though the kombucha lacks that wonderful fizz it is capable of producing.  Hey, as long as it is still doing it's job!

I found out how to do the second fermentation from the Cultured Food Life site.  I can't wait for her cookbook to come out.  She has a lot of great ideas that sound really yummy.  I really like my sauerkraut, and if my kimchi turns out like my friends, then I will really be loving that, but I really want to add lots of different ferments to our diet. I didn't want them all to be made with cabbage :-)  I'm not exactly creative in the kitchen. So a little help is much appreciated. Ha!

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

24 weeks down!

Whoa!  The six month mark!  At least as far as 'weeks' go.  Really not sure how they figure out months.  So I am either part way through month 5, or just hitting 6 months.  Anyone know how they figure that?  

Anyways, I shared how I am doing below.  Lots of fun.  No need to repeat :-)

Just wanting to put up a picture of the baby bump :-)

Music to my, ears!

Not sure if I have lamented here about my sinus issues.  I have definitely been lamenting....just not sure if I did it on here :-)  Anyways, almost two weeks ago I came down with *another* sinus infection.  I do believe this makes infection #6 in the past 5 months.  So I hit it with (most) of the usual stuff.  Being pregnant reduces some biggies, like oil of oregano.  But I made up an apple cider vinegar concoction (with magnesium, vit. C, vit. D, echinachea tincture, GSE), an elderberry syrup, and was taking some colloidal silver.  Along with that I was also doing a sinus rinse 3 times a day with the silver added or GSE added.  Things would get better for a couple of days, then WHAM, get much worse.  Lather, rinse, repeat for the past two weeks.  I got desperate and sought out some essential oils.  The Young Living's RC blend really made a difference over night.  I was feeling much improved.....until two days later I came down with the dreaded tummy bug.  Wham, sinuses flared.  Then to top it off I actually came down with a run of the mill cold.  REALLY!?!  I was at my wits end.  But, I don't give up easily.  And so I sat and thought.

I took some time to really think WHY I had no sinus issues while on GAPS, at least until we got hit by that horrid 5 day tummy bug 9 months in.  Since then, even re-doing GAPS intro 3 or 4 more times (!), I still CAN NOT get my gut healthy, thus having very unhealthy sinuses.  Sigh.  I went through what I ate, and did during, each of those intro times.  And then the light bulb moment!

The first go around on GAPS I was only using the liquids of the homemade sauerkraut.  The following re-do's I was using the probiotic pills (ones, that I now realize were DOA). I did try using the fermented juices one time, but my ferments went bad after week one and I resorted back to the pills.

Fast forward to being pregnant.  Hormones high, increase the bad yeasties count.  Bad, bad sinuses. Pregnant lady losing her mind :-)  Pray!  Yes, pray, and quick.  Later that day or the next, I was scanning down my list of 'favorites' in my computer folder, and I stumble upon this bookmarked site, Cultured Food Life.  This was when I had stopped and done my thinking.  I realized that it was the homemade ferments that helped my gut to heal, which led to my first ever allergy free season since a teen!

So I spent the next couple of days (we still had two days before shopping day) reading her site.  I signed up for a month membership because I was in desperate need of direction.  So do you want to see what was music to my sinuses/ears?

Ah, ferments, ones that popped when I opened the tops and did a bubbly dance as well!  That means that they are alive and active.  The salsa one will be ready for eating tonight, the other two (kimchi, and a cabbage/carrot/apple/raisin blend) will be ready this Sunday.  I can hardly wait!  Especially since I've had success with what I have been doing in the few days before I made the above veggies.

I had kefir and kombucha on hand, and figured I better start with what I have.  Donna, from CFL (link above) calls kefir, kombucha and fermented veggies, The Trilogy.  She has found that with any of them you will see results, but when you are consuming all three, you will see amazing results.  And right now....I need *amazing*!

In the past three days I have been drinking 1/4 cup of kefir with each meal, and 1/4 kombucha twice a day (between meals).  I am still taking my probiotic pills, and decided to open a capsule to add to my sinus wash that I am doing two times a day.  The results?  After three days, no more sinus pain, and any nose runnies (yes, I am aware that is not a real word :-)) went from yellow to clear.  Also, my 7 month long break out on my chin?  Huge difference!!  It is finally clearing up!!  This is no small matter, as I have tried various things to try to get rid of this rash or break out (kind of seems like a combo of the two, something I have never experienced before, so not sure what to call it).  I feel like maybe, just maybe I can be rid of the back to back sinus infections.  I still have stuffiness (I think more from the cold), but I have more energy, and no actual infection signs.  I don't want to get too excited, but so far this has been the only thing to really work at clearing things up, instead of me just feeling better. I will let you know how it goes over the next few weeks.  So far I have an infection every 3 to 6 weeks.  So, if I can go the next two months without one, then I know I've found my "ticket".
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