Monday, May 23, 2016

35W 3D Trying to Hold On

Saturday was a normal, event-packed, hot day. I felt normal for the most part besides the swelling. I took a shower at 9pm and started settling down to sleep around 9:30pm. I was so exhausted, yet VERY restless. Finally around 11:30pm I took some Benadryl and dosed off a few hours later. I woke up every 30 minutes with what felt like an EXTREMELY full bladder

Sunday morning, I woke up and started doing what I do every Sunday morning. Got dressed, started up my flat iron and laid out my makeup while I had hot water boiling for my "Throat Coat" tea. I went to the bathroom and felt this extreme heaviness in my pelvis. I started doing my hair and all of the sudden something felt "off" or "wrong". Something's not right... I feel so weird... The pressure in my pelvis was growing by the second. 

I started eating my breakfast and then I ran to the bathroom and threw up. I then had a loose stool. I felt like I needed to sit there until my water broke. My mind was gone at that point. I couldn't think straight or anything. 

I went to church and COULD NOT sit still. I just walked up and down the hall ways, swayed back and forth. My contractions were 10 minutes apart until about 11:30pm then they were 3-5 minutes apart the remainder of the day until I went to sleep around 2am.

I had my baby shower that day and was SO uncomfortable (the shower was an awesome blast though!!). I just wanted to eat and eat and eat and eat. My stomach was grumbling no matter what I ate. I believe I lost part of my mucus plug here. My body also started shaking like I was going into shock. I was shivering and felt very uneasy.

Around 6pm I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer. I fell asleep until about 8pm then needed to walk again. Alex and I walked around the block and I came back and just laid on the couch watching NCIS. Moved into the room, but the pressure was so tremendous I couldn't sleep. Finally I did fall asleep around 2am. 

Today, Monday, was a lighter version of yesterday. I have a slight urge to "nest" (which I haven't had at all yet). Still crampy. Lots of pressure. Less contractions. Still nauseated. Back pain comes in waves. 

I have an appointment tomorrow and I am going to have them check me and see if I dilated any more since my last appointment. 

OF MY BIGGEST complaints is the SWELLING!!!!!!! My face, feet, arms, and hands. I feel like a whale that washed up on shore. Seriously... I even sweat a lot at night and wake up a little less swollen, but then I swell BAD through the day. I look like I put on a ton of weight, but it's all water retention! That's fun fun fun!

I'm trying a few things to help with the swelling. 
I've read lemon water and Dandelion Root tea helps a lot. 

I'm pretty useless at this point. Just climbing the stairs causes lots of contractions. I'm taking it easy but trying to stay busy so I don't go crazy. 

God is good though. I am keeping a good attitude for the most part. I have my moments of crying as I look in the mirror at my swollen body, but I know in a few weeks from now that won't matter at all :)

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Our Homestead Project: Gardening

So Mariah (my little, pregnant sister) and I are really into providing our families with good, healthy food and natural remedies. Some of our favorite projects are:

(1) Chicken Stock/ Beef Bones Stock

One of my super large batches usually fills 10-12 freezer bags and some ice cube trays.

I try to make a batch of chicken or beef broth every month or so to keep us nice and stocked up.  I found the cheapest way to build up what I need to make the stock is to get organic rotisserie chickens from my natural food store ($8 a piece). I shred them and store the meat for meals throughout the week and keep the carcasses for stock. I then keep all the carrot, onion, and celery ends and bits we use and freeze them. When I have enough carcasses and veggies, I throw them all in a pot and let them simmer for 2 days. 

The gelatin and minerals in the bone broth are amazing when it comes to feeling sick, healing or keeping teeth strong, or just cultivating a great gut environment. We try to consume broth at least once a week in a soup form, but ill add broth cubes to stir fries and sauces for extra nutrition. 

(2) Home Made Kombucha

Here is my continuous brewing system. We've been making kombucha for a little over a month now and LOVE it! I can't afford to keep my whole family on probiotics (as much as I would love to), so this is a much cheaper way I am able to provide my family with a steady supply of good bacteria.

Its so fun for the kids to pick what they want to flavor the kombucha's with. Our family favorite has been strawberry lemonade. We have such a strong good continuous brew I am getting about 1 1/2 - 3 Gallons of Kombucha a week! My husband bought me a second 2 gallon container to start a second brew system since he's so in love with kombucha now. 

(3) Cooking Healthy, Delicious meals made from Organic Produce (when we can):

I am not a big fan of cook books... like at all... but I bought this one from the Mache Conference. WOW! I am amazed at this cook book. I have not made a single thing that my family hasn't liked. Even my veggie-protesting son, and my husband who refuses to have a meal without meat have both ate a salad as a meal.

You can look inside if you click here.

**See more at the bottom of this post about this amazing cook book!!**

The first salad I have ever seen my son eat. He had two bowls!! It's a cabbage asian type salad. 
Potato Soup used with homemade chicken stock, bacon, and raw cheese. SOOOO GOOD!!!

Pumpkin Bars that are sweetened without sugar. They also don't include any flour. I believe their considered "paleo". Low in carbs, high in protein and make a great dessert or breakfast. 

Root Vegetable Mix. The sauce for these bad boys was AMAZING! This was the meatless meal my husband indulged in. He even said, "If you keep cooking like this, I wouldn't mind" :)

A Cucumber, Dill salad that I added eggs to.

Coconut Flour Pancakes with maple syrup and bananas.

Eggplant, Zucchini and Yellow squash lasagna. No noodles.

Green Bean and Bacon deliciousness with some cheese potato wedges.

(3) Herbal Salves and Tinctures:

We also make a "Vicks Vapor Rub" that we call our Respiratory and Cough Salve.  I swear it calms a cough faster tthen the potent vaseline based stream line rub.

So our *NEW* project is our MASSIVE garden:

It started out as this humble patch next to my moms house which we put the men to work tilling and raking.

Then we got a little more ambitious and had them till a little further.

Then we stretched it up further...

Here's pregnant Mariah and I leveling out our ground.

Our backs pretty much hurt after less then a half an hour.

But here is a snap shot of what the garden grew into. :)

Our goals for this garden are to store up as much organic produce for our family as we can, as well as provide fresh produce we can eat through the harvesting season. We're making a ridiculous amount of collards to freeze, cucumbers to pickle, kidney beans to dry, strawberries to jelly, hot peppers to freeze, squash to freeze, bell peppers to freeze and more. 
Here is Alyssa and her fiancĂ© Pablo putting compost around our strawberry plants. 

I'm not a big fan of gardening either, but I figure there are some things that it will really help me with:

(1) Feeding my large (and still growing) family with organic, local produce, without continuing to raise our grocery bill.

(2) Learning skill sets such as how to preserve seeds and grow our own food in case we need to turn back to doing this as a source of survival in a few years.

(3) Homeschooling opportunities are countless. We've got over 50 books from the library, watched several documentaries and science videos on plants, bugs, habitats, food chains, and more, and we've done many art projects about parts of plants and how photosynthesis works. We've talked about how the pilgrims lived when they first came to this country and how hard they had to work (even the small children) just to survive.

(4) Spiritual applications and teaching moments for the kids are also countless. So many times throughout the Bible, farmers, plants, seeds, and fruit are used as examples to spiritual lessons that God wants us to understand. Giving the kids a tangible plant, seed, fruit ect that they can wrap their little hands and minds around makes a BIG impact on a little heart.

(5) Teaching the kids character through work ethic, patience, endurance, and practical life skills such as cooking, preserving food, tilling the ground, pulling weeds, harvesting crops, caring and nurturing plants, ect. is not scarce with maintaining a garden. You could also teach older kids about money management and how to price out what is needed to grow crops and what they can do to sell their crops to make a profit. The possibilities are really endless.


I'm going to keep you posted on our progress and things I've learned with this new journey our family is experimenting with. :) 

I am very excited, and a little nervous, about taking on such a big project when being pregnant, having a baby, and going through all that we are in this season, but the Lord's really laid this on my heart and my husband agrees and is funding me in it. 

Where God guides, He provides. 

I'm excited to see the work He does in my heart and my kids hearts as we take on this new summer project.


I wanted to touch on the cookbook I mentioned above in a little more detail.

It's called 
Farm Girl Fresh
Eating Pure in a Processed Foods World 
You can check out their website here.

This cookbook follows the philosophy of health that I've developed over the years, and it equips you with amazing tasting meals and simple, easy laid out recipes. 

Not only does it do this, but it uses produce you can grow in the midwest and breaks each "chapter" up according to that produce starting with apples and working it's way to zucchini. It teaches you how to grow, preserve and cook that produce. My sister and I planned and planted our garden with this book in one hand and our starter plants in the other. We plan on following it's simple steps for canning, dehydrating, and freezing our produce, and then using the recipes to make our own meals, snacks, desserts ect. 

It teaches you how to grow herbs, dehydrate them and make your own spice mixes.
It gives you a simple way to make hearty chicken stock in your crock pot.
It gives numerous recipes for salad dressings, marinades, and stir fry sauces that don't require nasty preservatives, added processed sugar, or much preparation.

The kids love paging through the beautiful pictures on every page and picking out what they want to try the following week as we put together our grocery list. 

I obviously cannot say enough good things about this "cook book" that is really much MORE then a cook book. 

My sister, step-mom, and another one of my friends are all making meals from this book and sending each other pictures of our meals. 
I'm very encouraged and excited about what these ladies have put together and I hope it blesses you too! 

Friday, May 13, 2016

34 Weeks and Early Labor Begins

So if you've followed any of my other pregnancies, you know I have a really hard time keeping my babies in to term. My preterm labor usually starts around 33-34 weeks. I then have to take it very easy until I get closer to full term.

33 weeks of beauty... hahaha

Around week 32-33, my baby dropped. I feel him in my pelvis for sure. My Braxton Hicks have increased a lot. Usually every evening I get them every 10 minutes. They increase when I move around. 

This last week (my 33rd week) was the hardest yet. I was up 4 nights in a row with contractions and cramping. Two nights ago I was up vomiting through the night which is usually my sign that labors only a few weeks away. The pelvic pressure has increased a lot. Sharp cervix pains. Things are moving right along.

34 weeks today! My pregnancy pictures are never a beautiful, glorious sight lol. 

My midwife said I'm dilated to about a 1 and cervix is "ripe". It's not too worrisome, but she has me taking several precautions just to make it another 3 weeks at the least. 

(1) Epsom Salt Baths daily
(2) Lots of water
(3) Benadryl when the contractions keep me up for nights

She recommended drinking a glass of wine daily, however, I am a worship leader and am choosing to not do this recommendation since that is my conviction. 

I can feel myself slipping into the "depressive" state I usually get into during this last trimester, but I'm praising the Lord I've been keeping my flesh in check so far. 

I'm trying to stay busy, but resting a LOT! I also know times coming close because I'm getting to that point where I don't want a lot of people at the house for a while. As you know, we have people living here and staying here constantly. I'm starting to get into that nesting mode where I need space, quiet, and rest. I feel like crawling into a cave with my little ones and preparing a space to prepare a nest and just nurture my babies for a few months. 

However, I am going to continue to lead worship as long as my body will let me, and we are going to continue to have home fellowship through everything. :)

Alex just finished up school so he will be coming home after work EVERYDAY! I have NO IDEA what it's like to have him home by 4pm every. single. day. !! Wow!!! I am so excited!!! 

God is good. Trying to keep my eyes on Him and not myself or others. Soon I'll be holding little Aryeh Duke Deputie in my arms.

Mache Conference Recording

It's taken a while to update on our Mache Conference Experience. 
It was awesome, to say the least. 
I attached a recording of the speech that Alex I were able to give. 

Alex got us a hotel room right on the lake. Our hotel room had a kingsize bed and a hot tub right next to our bed with two large windows looking over the lake. There was a light house and ships sailing by. It was just incredibly relaxing. 

There was one morning where Alex went to a Men's Breakfast so I spent the morning with a cup of coffee next to the window overlooking the lake. It was sweet time with just Jesus and I. 

The Lord gave us clear direction on what He has for us this year as far as homeschooling goes. We're very excited since He's changing our whole (especially MY whole) philosophy on homeschooling. 

We had so many conversations after Alex and I spoke that were very sweet. I just love the body of Christ. What an awesome thing our God set up for us to partake in until He comes back. :)

I should have a video of the speech coming to me really soon which I will attach to this post so watch for updates if you're interested. 

Saturday, April 16, 2016

An Answered Prayer

In the midst of the seemingly unknown, when there's frightening things happening around you, yet there's a peace that is guarding your heart (just as the scriptures promise in Philippians 4:6-7, Isaiah 26:3 and many more scriptures), it's always encouraging to see the Lord's guidance. Just to get a glimpse of the FACT that He's had all this in His plan and is still orchestrating things in His timing.

And what really is "unknown"? 
Does God not gold all circumstances in His hand? 
Does He not know the future? 
Is He not sovereign? 
Does He not fashion our steps to walk in before we were even conceived or our souls even entered this world?

Ephesians 2:13 "But now we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."
Philippians 4:6-7 "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." 
Isaiah 26:3 "You will keep Him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because He trusts in You."

I know myself, and I hold onto those times when I see that the Lord's in control; I hold onto those times when I can't seem to see His sovereignty from my perceptive. 

Ahavah's been still having numerous absent seizures as well as some random fevers. She's been putting herself to bed at night saying her stomach hurts, her head hurts, and she doesn't feel well. She'll sweat through the night and wake up the next morning to a rough start. There was a night this week she was sweating so bad we tried to wake her, but she wouldn't wake up. Alex carried her down into my room and I laid next to her just praying over her through the night. She woke up the next morning (after about a 12 hour sleep) conscious and doing okay. 

She's quieted down a lot. She doesn't talk much. She's lost interest in reading and writing, which she used to love to do. She isn't interested in eating much at all. My kids LOVE to eat late night and they eat a LOT. Ahavah will barely finish her dinner and then she doesn't want anything else for the night except to go to bed because she doesn't feel well. 

Last Friday we had a lady from the Department of Health over to talk with me face to face as well as take some samples of some vitamins to test them for lead. She ended up being a believer and we had a SWEET time of fellowship! We shared God's faithfulness in the midst of what we've walked through with our children. She almost buried 3 of her 5 children due to health issues, mostly autoimmune diseases. She was the forerunner to many health issues we consider common nowadays. 

We prayed together. We prayed over each other's families, for God's wisdom in dealing with my children as well as several situations her family is currently facing. When she left I thanked her for sharing such an encouraging testimony of God's hand in her life. I told her that I praise the Lord she's in the position she is. She assured me she's praying over my family and my children and she's allowing the Lord to lead her as she seeks to come along side us with all we're facing.  


Then the following Friday (yesterday), we had two of our favorite guys from the Department of Health over. They spent 2 1/2 hours running through the ENTIRE home checking every thing they could think of (again) that could contain any source of lead. Our ceilings, several dirt samples all around the home, toys, craft supplies, bathroom caulking... you name it. 

They also came up with a plan to just start removing any lead sources from the home. 

Alex and I have been praying and asking for this grant that replaces the old lead-containing windows in the house. We didn't "qualify" for the last two years since most of our windows ARE new and don't contain lead except for 4-5 of them that have the original wood and paint that came with the house (1880). However, due to my children being severely poisoned for 2 years, they are going to work through several loop holes to try to get us this grant! We MAY even be able to reseal our lead bathtub using a grant also. We will only have to pay a small percentage of the work that will be done.

We don't always know why God closes certain doors at certain times.

 Why didn't we get this grant rolling two years ago? 
It could have possibly limited our kids exposure to a potential lead source. 
I may never know. 
I don't need to know. 

That's the great thing about being a Christian!!

We get to apply God's Word and trust God's Word. 
He says He laid it all out for us to walk in. 

He said He cares more about us then the birds of the air that He feeds and the lilies of the field that He clothes (Matthew 6). Our flesh wants answers. Our flesh wants to know all things so we can judge if God's making the right decision. But we can just trust Him and allow His peace to guard our hearts. 

Then when we get glimpses that He's working and we can look back, remember that He was orchestrating everything, and we can fall back on that which we KNOW when we come against something we DONT KNOW.

God's so good.
It's such a joy to follow Him. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Funny Things Said and Heard

I'm Batman!
After picking up Elias and noticing how he was rubbing his eyes and whining.
Mom: Are you a crabby man?
Elias: No! I'm not a crabby man! I'm BATMAN!

Does God Forget? All girls were joined together singing "God forgive and God forgets, all my sin and selfishness. No matter what I've done, or what I've said, I know God forgives and God forgets."
Alecia: Mom, can God forget? I thought He knew everything.
Mom: ... well... um... ask your dad!
Dad: You see the Bible says God removes our sin as far as the east is from the West... but we need to break it down into the original language... and do an in-depth study in the original language... 
*confusion on Alecia's face*
Dad: ... God chooses not to remember? He knows. But He's forgiven... Ask the pastor! 

I Ate My Banana!
Night before:

Mom: "Elias, when you wake up early, you can just sit on the couch and wait for Mommy to wake up. You can grab a banana if you're hungry, but don't wake mommy up."

Next Morning:
*I roll over in bed and my eyes focus on the crack where the door is slightly open. There is Elias standing with one eye visible, staring at me.

Elias: "Hi mom! I'm up now! I got a banana. I opened it myself."

*He then runs away and I go back to sleep.

*I opened my eyes a few minutes later, and there he is standing in the crack of my door again.

Elias: "Hi mom! I ate all my banana! I ate it ALLLLL"

I Like You Mommy
My son usually comes into my room when I'm doing my make up and asks me, "Mom! Mom! Mom! What you doing? Painting?"

Today I straightened my hair and put make up on. As I was finishing off with some red lip gloss my son says, "Wow mom! You look so pretty! I like you mom! You look so pretty!" :)

Thursday, April 7, 2016

29 Weeks Pregnant

I'm 29 weeks pregnant?!? Dude, when did that happen?!?

I am DEF-TOTES feeling the third trimester. 

I AM EXHAUSTED! So, so, so sleepy and feel very useless. 
Thankfully the business of 3-7 appointments for the girls has slowed down considering I now meet my midwife every other week as well as my chiropractor. 

I am also STARVING! I am more of a snacker so I feel like I'm eating all the time. 

Also, I've gained about 32lbs. I weight around 172lbs. 
Never gained this much this early, and I've never eaten this healthy this continuously. Considering I can't eat fast food, junk food, or anything, my diet is phenominal! Yet, I'm gaining quite a bit. 

Turns out my blood work shows I am on the anemic side so I'm taking 100mg of iron a day with 10,000 vitamin D and my prenatal. 

I haven't had any leg cramps, not too much pain pain, a little pelvis pain since my baby likes to place his head on my left hip bone and lay diagonally along my stomach. My braxton hicks have slowed down now that I'm not as stressed out. 

Things seem to be good :)

Here's my belly. 

To hold my SON! :) :) :) 
To snuggle up with a little squeaky, grunting, baby-smelling little baby!
And to have my husband home for 4 weeks and just do nothing but be as a family.
Oh, it's so great!