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This is the second in my Nursing Tips series.  I am writing these to myself as a reminder for future needs I may have.  I also hope that any Mama’s reading may be able to glean a bit of help from it if they find themselves in a similar situation.  As always, these are simply my [not always right] thoughts, and none are recommendations for you.  Please seek professional help if you need!  Other posts in the series:

***

Since I started this Nursing Tips series, a very dear friend of mine suffered a severe heart attack.  In an effort to team up with a few other ladies, I’ve been increasing my supply and pumping every day.  This has been a particular challenge for me because I thought I wasn’t a good pumper, and wondered if I still could since my struggles early on with Aury.  But it’s proven to be much more successful than I anticipated, and we feel blessed to be able to love on them in this way.  Meanwhile, focusing on keeping supply UP!

I’ve always said I struggle with my milk supply, but if I were to take a good hard look at our last several children, I’d realize it was only with Adyn & Kendra.  With Adyn, I was quite petite and fit, and probably didn’t eat enough calories if I’m being honest.  With Kendra, I became severely sick after her birth, and so supply issues were a given.  Since then, I’ve never had a problem.

Here are measures I’ve taken to proactively make sure supply stayed up, just in case:

When I was pregnant with Colby, we bought a pair of Dwarf Nigerian goats.  I figured their milk would be an excellent supplement if I needed the help. They never bred while we had them (but were awfully fun for our two littles to play with!), and I never needed their milk.  We’ve since moved [far, far, far] away from goats, and now keep a homestead flock of dairy ewes that keep me content with a back up in the event that our babes would need it.

When I feel like I’m running shy (or when I’m trying to build supply, like now, as I’m pumping for Max), I take a dropper full of WishGarden’s Mil Rich (there’s another brand called More Milk Plus) tincture every time I nurse.  I also drink a minimum of a quart of Mother’s Milk herbal tea per day (preferably more).  I have been having loaded oatmeal most mornings.  And I’ve taken fennel and blessed thistle, switching off which one daily to keep my body awake (instead of acclimated to them individually).  I’m boosting my calories, but making sure they’re nutrient-rich.  More nuts, cheeses, bone broth, pastured proteins, dark chocolate (ha!), and always yogurt to support my digestive system as it deals with the new onslaught of goodness.  Oh, and drink more fluids.  Don’t waste your fluid space: drink herbal tea. ❤

The quickest way I’ve gotten a boost in production is by drinking 8oz of beer.  I really have no favor toward the flavor, so for me, it’s an act of love and one I’ve only done a couple of times in my years of lactating.  But it does the trick quick-like.  Some gals say that adding a tablespoon of brewer’s yeast to their daily regime acts similarly as well.

Here is a list of things *I* do.  It is by no means comprehensive, suggested, or in any particular order.  I’d recommend you research and find a professional to walk you through your lactating journey, as needed.  Lactation consults are truly your best friend.  I’d recommend Amber Ham Langelier in a heartbeat.  She’s Aury & my breastfeeding hero.

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Boosting production

  • brewers yeast – 1 T. / day.
  • yeasty beer – 8oz makes for a quick boost (consider barley / hops if you’d prefer no alcohol)
  • fenugreek – 1 T. / day herb, or 2 droppers of extract
  • fennel – same as fenugreek
  • blessed thistle – same as fenugreek
  • Milk Rich or More Mother’s Milk tincture – 1 dropper each nursing, or every 3-4 hours; this is my quick, lazy go-to
  • Traditional Medicinals “Mothers Milk” tea; another lazy go-to when I don’t have better quality herbal tea at my leisure — I usually have a home-made version of this tea at my disposal

Supporting my body for increased production (I usually make into tea infusion)

  • nettle
  • alfalfa
  • oatstraw
  • red raspberry leaf
  • red rooibos

Things to AVOID while breastfeeding (or be wise/moderate about)

  • peppermint
  • ginger
  • coffee
  • lots of other herbs/etc, but these are my guilty pleasures that I need reminded against

After finishing this post up, I just decided to take an extra step and add another post to my Nursing Tips series that is simply a list of herbs that I (or others) like to use during lactation seasons, why I use them, etc.  Be patient – it’s coming!

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This is the second in my Nursing Tips series.  I am writing these to myself as a reminder for future needs I may have.  I also hope that any Mama’s reading may be able to glean a bit of help from it if they find themselves in a similar situation.  As always, these are simply my [not always right] thoughts, and none are recommendations for you.  Please seek professional help if you need!  Other posts in the series:

***

When Aury was born, the midwife checked his mouth and said that he had both a tongue and lip tie.  If you know me, you know I balk at this ‘silly nonsense’ as trendy lunacy.  Well, not anymore.  If you remember, his poor latched caused bleeding inflamed swollen nipples within a few days of his birth, leading to infection and mastitis, and almost ten weeks of recovery.  But we prevailed!  Despite some rather bleak moments when I wasn’t sure we’d succeed at breastfeeding, I can report that we are still at it – and everything is going swimmingly at last!

On Day 6 postpartum, the first bit of relief arrived.  With an injection of local anesthetic, Aury had both his lip & tongue tie corrected.  He cried for 10 seconds.  I cried for 20 minutes.  I couldn’t even fathom doing the every-two-hour exercises to making sure things healed correctly.  Scott did it as often as he could, and Adyn did when Scott couldn’t.  After almost a week, I finally built up the courage to do it, and took over.  It wasn’t all that bad.  By then, the heebeejeebees were minimal, and Aury really didn’t have much of a problem with it, even from the beginning.

The next two nursings after the tie corrections were slightly better.

My midwife had suggested using a nipple shield to keep things better protected as they healed; and to keep pain just a little bit less.  Scott left in the late night hunting some down.  He came home with several, all the same size, but different brands.  I was surprised that they all fit very differently; one just right.  Because of the poor latch and angry nips, I was incredibly swollen (I may have referred to myself as an “amazon woman” at one point as I cried to our lactation consultant), which made for fitting a bit different during this time vs. after things settled down.  I was glad for the variety.

I’ve never used nipple shields, and it made no sense to me at first.  I did some internet searching about how they work, and how to use them, and found them to be a real psychologic buffer that made nursing much more … well, less petrifying (the pain was intense).  Because of Aury’s poor latch, I had scabbing, which plugged the shields at the beginning of each nursing.  I’d have to take them off and clean out in order to finish nursing.  Also, for several weeks due to my initial infection, my milk was very stringy – but usually passed through the shields holes.

I’ll be honest… I cried the first several (and randomly after that) times that I used the shield.  It felt like a breastfeeding loss.  I had to grieve a bit before I could accept that it would help.  I didn’t like having this “fake” nipple being what my baby learned to nurse.  I was jealous of it.  I was mad at it.  But I definitely learned to love it!  I was concerned it may become a necessity for our entire breastfeeding journey, but am thankful that with time we were able to wean away from it completely and back to al la natural.

That night, feedings became incredibly painful again.  I was so discouraged.  After midnight, I emailed a lactation consult an emergent request for help.  I really felt like I was at my wits end.  I was a huge mess.

Amber Ham Langelier, the lactation consult, arrived at 9am the next morning.  We talked about the ties. We talked about the infection and the damaged nipples.  She was calm.  She was kind.  And she found the fix: positioning.  I thought I had tried it all, and yet her simple solution was perfect.  It was the big turning point on our breastfeeding journey.  Apparently Aury had been tucking his chin while nursing, due likely to his lip and tongue ties, which was irritating my nipples and was causing the pain.  We moved away from the cradle position (she mentioned this is actually not a very good position in general) to either Aury “standing” in front, or the “football” position or both of us laying down.  In all of these positions, I could really make him stretch his chin upward and reach for the nipple, which was exactly what we needed.  Even now, months later, his natural tendency is still to tuck his chin.

I continued using the nipple shield for more than a month, longer for my damaged/infected side.  The first time I didn’t use it, I was so scared.  It took several days to wean from it entirely (mostly because I wasn’t psychologically ready).  I continued having latch-on pain in my left side until Aury was almost 10 weeks old.  The pain went deep into my tissue, all the way to my ribs.

I wasn’t sure whether or not the damage was permanent at this point.  I had some pretty intense (and deep) scabbing for a long while.  It got smaller and smaller oh so slowly until at last it all [tissue, not scab] sloughed off after a nursing.  It was disgusting.  And horrifying!  But after that, milk flowed much more freely.  I’m happy to report that I’ve successfully pumped on that side again as well – A feat I thought literally impossible after that roller coaster!

Thankfully, right around his 3 month bend, I remember one day realizing: “huh!  it hasn’t hurt for a while!”  What a blessing that the pain slipped away like that!  Now we are nursing well, things have healed back miraculously (IMO) nicely – the tissue filling back in – and our little chunk of a fellow has apparently thrived!  I chalk it up to God’s great provision.  He is in the 90% for weight, and 75% for height, weighing almost 17 pounds at his three month check up.  His older siblings weighed that at one year old!  And have never been anywhere near his height percentile.  We may have a football player on our hands.

I learned a good lesson about my mockery of tongue ties: it’s real, folks, and it can be awful.  I still think babes are diagnosed (or rather, treated) too often for it, but also realize that I need to get off my soapbox and admit I’m wrong: I need help.  I’m thankful for the gals in my life that supported me through that, and especially Mary & Pita who were able to correct it, and Amber who taught me how to form new habits out of it!  I’m especially thankful to our Creator who made all things so adaptable and unique.  I’m so thankful that my body was able to heal from that whole ordeal and for being able to nourish my wee one in this way through it all.  I count both a huge blessing and privilege!  I’ve learned I cannot expect these things ‘just because,’ but instead thank God each day for the gifts we have, day by day.

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I just wanted to provide an update, and a whole lot of notes for myself – and any other gals out there who could use this information in their own lives.  NONE of it is a recommendation to you.  Please do your research as you pursue health and wellness.  Also seek professional help, as necessary.

Other posts in the series:

Aury and I have been progressing nicely since his birth and our nursing woes.  The infection that I got early on led to some fairly long-term issues.  In fact, it’s only now (he’s 9+ weeks old) that I can honestly say nursing is going “normal.”  I’m so thankful for that!

In an effort to clean out the infection and (Lord willing) keep supply up, Aury and I were working hard at nursing as often as possible for the first several weeks.  This left us hunkered down at home most of the time.  The side effects were that nursing was still painful since I was recovering from his early poor latching, and the tissue in my infected breast had been severely damaged to the point of zero milk production by one week postpartum; yet [lots of] fluid draining (never have had this for more than a day or two).  This caused a lot of belly aches for my poor nursing babe.  We were both frustrated more than once.  But neither of us were about to give up at this point.

It literally took over 5 weeks for my milk ducts to clear, and for milk to begin to return (no more stringy-ness; no other fluids; exterior bruising gone; nip swelling diminished).  I’ve never had an infection have such long-term effects.  Only this week do I finally feel like it’s back to full production.  Despite all of this, praise God, we have a very healthy chunky monkey, and have been pleasantly surprised that there has been so little scarring.

As we carried no schedule during those weeks, it’s took a week or two to get into a good rhythm.  Aury is definitely a more happy baby with a clear cycle.  We both have really appreciated the calm we now can enjoy.  We both appreciate the freedom to leave as well, him and I both emotionally (ha!) doing outings smashingly now.

So I wanted to talk a little bit about the healing measures we took during the time of engorgement, infection and poor latch, as well as what I’ve done to work on maintaining a good supply during – and after!  I’ve decided to go at it one subject per post, so check for my others in this Nursing Tips “series” if you’re interested.  Perhaps start here to get a full view of what we were dealing with.

#treeoflife

#treeoflife

There are many techniques and recommendations to treat mastitis (breast infection), milk fever, and nipple health (poor latch, etc).  I cannot cover them all here, and do not hope to.  I want to share what worked for me, tho’, in hopes that it can offer some practical help to your own toolbox of information.  I also want to keep records for my future benefit.

I’ve had a lot of breast infections in my lactating years, and so at the onset of my first with Aury – only 3 days after he was born – I knew what was coming.  I got a flax seed bag warmed up, removed restrictive clothing, filled up a water canister and went to bed.  Unfortunately, Scott was laid out on the bathroom floor with a migraine, hugging the toilet all night long.  So Kendra slept in our bed all night, getting up and helping so much during the night.

I was delirious.  Hot.  Cold.  Sweaty.  Headache.  But we had to press on.  The sweet fresh babe would need new milk as I was also just starting to become engorged.  The combo was quite the trip.  Not realizing yet that it was a poor latch that was contributing to the infection, I went at it with my normal tricks:

Nurse as often as possible.  I realize that when you have an infection, it’s hard to want to let a baby nurse it out.  It’ll hurt like the dickens.  But it’s so important!  If your baby won’t take it, try pumping to clean out the infected duct.  Make sure that the pump, however, isn’t exacerbating the problem.  It was with Aury because of his poor latch and the damage it was inflicting on my nips, and after Day <5?>, I was pumping a shockingly scary amount of blood.  My mammaries were mad.  Aury was gassy and belly-upset (this continued into his 4th week of life, thanks to this infection).  All that to say: Stick with hand expressing and nursing if pumping is problematic.

Drink lots!  Your body needs to flush out the infection.  You also are at risk for becoming dehydrated as a breastfeeding Mama, and as your body fights infection.  Drink water if it’s easiest, or have an herbal tea nearby – always, infection or not!

Take a hot shower.  Or warm bath with epson salts!  It will help your milk let down, stimulate blood flow, soothe your body and calm your nerves.  Add some essential oils or herbs (below), if wanted.

Use compresses.  In the same light as showering, hot compressing is fantastic, as well as cold.  Some gals will use boiled cabbage leaves alone (there’s conflicting information that cabbage leaves can help diminish supply for weaning – so I avoid it) or grated raw potato.  I like to soak a cotton cloth (or nursing pad!) in an herbal tea and place over my whole chest.  I had a pot warm on the stove that I’d just dunk, squeeze a bit and repeat all day long.  When using cotton, I’d start with a layer of plastic wrap, put on the compress and top it all with a hot pad (I use a flax seed bag, but sometimes the weight of it isn’t my friend if I have an infection).  I’d use any of the herbs listed under “herbal oils” below.  Raw apple cider vinegar compressing also has been known to be helpful.  It’s cooling effect was soothing, but the smell… I just couldn’t do it for long.  Be sure to clean your nips before next nursing so babe isn’t getting anything other than your milk.

Tuck in hand warmers.  A sort of hot compress “cheat,” Scott bought a box of 10 that served an awesome help.  I was in no position to leave my house, but when I did (or if I was up and at ’em), I’d stuff one of these in my top against the infected area.  Often with a soaked nursing pad (compress).  I keep one in our diaper bag at all times just in case.

Herbal oils.  Y’all know I’m not a huge proponent of using essential oils excessively, but this was a particularly useful time that I put them to work.  I didn’t have a lot of energy to make up concoctions all day, so infused some olive oil with a few herbs and applied generously on my chest, particularly the affected areas (but away from my nipple so Aury wouldn’t be consuming any of it).  I used rosemary, sage, lavender, garlic, marshmallow, calendula and comfrey.  Nearly all of these herbs would do well for you/Mama in tincture or tea (internal) form as well except those noted.  I’d use comfrey internally with caution, at best.

Massage.  This is one of the first things I do if I feel an infection coming on.  That, heat and rest.  I massage the affected area in a circular motion as often as I think of it.  It will help work out your ducts.  This was a good time for me to use the infused oils (above).

REST.  I know, I know.  You have a baby (and possibly a passel of children besides that).  Responsibilities loom.  But it is SO important that you rest.  Now is one of those times that you should plug in a movie (or twelve in a row) and let the kids chill as you do.  Give you nips a rest, too.  When not in a compress, leave them exposed as much as possible.  No bra or restrictive clothes.  No shirt.  Fresh air.

Coconut oil. I adore lanolin.  I’ve used it on my nips (and lips!) for a decade and a half now.  I love how thick it is, and how healing it is.  BUT I had to let it go when I had this rough time with Aury.  It’s tackiness was not helpful.  It caused me to stick to my nursing pads (tearing off scabs from poor latch – shiver), and also is so thick that it doesn’t allow your nipple to breathe.  I switched to coconut oil and instantly noticed improvement – and it was sooo soothing – and good for the little man nursing, too!  Once things are under control with nursing, I suspect I’ll go back to lanolin just because I adore it.

Antibiotics.  I use propolis because it has a lot of antibiotic properties.  I sprayed (YEE-ouch!) a tincture straight onto my tips right after each nursing session when I had cracking, preventing further infection, and hopefully getting into my ducts to work some magic.  If natural remedies aren’t working, your doctor will recommend antibiotics.  I’ve resorted to this once early on in my mastitis years when I didn’t know how to work on it myself and it got way out of hand.

To help your body fight the infection, consider boosting your Vitamin C, echinacea, and probiotics.  You’ll want to boost your immune system as it fights and to prevent further infections.

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Once upon a time I had this friend.  She had hemorrhoids.  Yeah.  She’s gross.

Okay, okay, let’s get real, folks.  The majority of American’s suffer (usually in silence – and with OTC temporary-relief products) from internal and/or external hemorrhoids.  We live in a society that lives on their hineys, eats garbage, and frankly, doesn’t take care of themselves as well as they should.  Those slobs aside, some of us are living the life of health & finesse *cough, cough*.  But still have hemorrhoids.  So let’s just delve into the ridiculously embarrassing world of talking about it.  Let’s put aside our prude (err, pride) and deal with things that need to be dealt with.  Unlike I did for years.

So actually, I really did have a friend that had really bad hemorrhoids.  So bad that she found a doctor who would be willing to take care of them all in one fell swoop.  I was excited at the potential of her leaving the struggles behind, but also nervous for her, as my great-aunt had gone through the surgery and after months of recovery, swore she would never do it again if she would have known how brutal it would be.  That it was the worst experience of her life.  Well, it ended up the same for this friend of mine.  She ended up in the ER numerous times over the several weeks following the procedure.  It was horrifically painful to the point of unbearable.  She maxed out what doc would give her in narcotics, and still could not function as a Mama and person in her daily life from the pain for – literally – months.  No thanks!

So naturally, I never felt inclined to talk about them, much less do anything about it.

Until recently. (more…)

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This pregnancy has been so different than others.  It just continues to remind me why I laugh – and find it hard to believe when other Mom’s say things about how they do pregnancy/birth, as if it’s the same every time.  Well, not for this gal!  Two of our babies were born “on time,” two were born over two weeks late (according to LMP).  I’ve gained anywhere between 11 to 23 pounds per pregnancy; not gender or starting-size specific.  This time I started a little heavier than with the first two, tho’ trimmed down and now feel like my belly is cuter and more “basketbally” (smaller, rounder) than other pregnancies.  This is the first time I haven’t had a lot of discomfort with numbness in my front rib area, no dark belly button line, not a lot of ‘peach fuzz’ or extra hair everywhere, or wobbling (yet) because of particularly loose hips.  I have all kinds of theories* as to why, but who really knows.  Trust me, the whack hormones have been abundant.  This pregnancy has flown by.  I want it to be over (to meet the little one!), but I want it to last (I love being pregnant).  We’ve been very simple in our preparations – there’s been no urge to buy a bunch of stuff.

With every pregnancy I’ve taken a different angle on what we “need” vs. what we have.  This time, just like last, we’re taking it easy on buying things.  In fact, we have very little.  I only recently went through our bins in the basement to inventory where we are on clothing.  And I wasn’t even disheartened to learn that we literally have three pieces of brand-new-person clothing.  We still haven’t bought any to add.  Here’s the thing, though: we are blessed with a village.  A Mama who dresses her now 4 month old in adorable gear is hand-me-downing a full wardrobe.  If we find any gaps, we can fill them in later.  We have a carseat, cloth diapers, a Mai Tai wrap and a co-sleeper, 2 binky’s if we go that route, and a box of nursing pads.  We have what we need.  Just like last time we were jonesing for [a very few] extra’s that we are accumulating, I’ll share what’s on the “wish list” this time if it’s helpful for your own baby planning:

Homemade things  We did find a brand new package of long sleeved white onesies that we’re having fun painting and sewing on for custom gear for this little one.  You’ll remember Flynn’s handprint turkey… This time we’re doing more rainbow gear, since this is our second rainbow baby that God has so generously blessed us with.  I see a few fun things surfacing as what will soon turn to overcast weather inspires indoor creativity.  Today’s task: sew a mattress pad for the co-sleeper.  And perhaps some cute co-sleeper sheets and moby wrap with the fabric we picked up at a yard sale last weekend.

“Sweet Relief” – This is not actually new to this pregnancy, but a good one to share.  It’s a mix of herbs that I give to new Mama’s and use for postpartum healing.  It includes calendula, comfrey leaf, plantain leaf, rosemary leaf, yarrow leaf & flower, myrrh gum powder, self heal, st. johns wort, gota kola, and marshmallow root.  Infuse it into water: 1/4 cup herbs to a quart of boiling water.  Cover.  Sit overnight.  Strain.  Keep in fridge for three days before making new, or when needed.  Soak a thick feminine pad about halfway with some (or flannel or ?), and wear it on top of a winged feminine pad (or big one) while nursing or sitting or any other time — 15 minute bouts every couple of hours is soothing, cleanser and healing.  It will soothe and aid in healing inflamed or torn tissue, and relieve hemorrhoids that may have found a new place in your life.  A must-have for postpartum recovery.  If you need would like some, check out my Etsy shop or pop me a request.  Or find a recipe online and blend your own!

Bengkung belly wrap – Realizing the benefits of treating Mama’s body well pre-pregnancy, early in pregnancy (stability and support), and for postpartum healing with age-old belly binding, I can’t believe I haven’t used one of these before.  And I think they’re beautiful.  Thanks Etsy seller!

Affirmation during labor – I’ve put together a song list for delivery.  Our first two babes were born to Enya.  The second two I don’t remember being specific with music.  This one has an entire playlist of it’s own.  I used india permanent ink, a stick, and water colors to make a few one-liners to focus on during labor (“birth is normal.” “God answered our prayers.” “do not fear.”).  I also took a wonderful book of handmade scripture that the ladies of our church had made for me during Scott’s hospital stay and have strung them as verses for this as well.  They are so very applicable.  And the fact that women worked together to make them for me then, only to re-focus on now – during a time of blessing after that trial – is profoundly beautiful to me.

Henna or belly preserving – I don’t have plans of belly painting this time like we did with Flynn, but have been jonesing for henna.  We were going to do it ourselves, but have had little luck with the right mixture.  So, tho’ I’ve argued against it profusely (where do you store such a silly thing?!), I just got what we need for a belly cast instead.  They’re fun.  They’re beautiful.  And they’re entertaining.  Whatever.

capturing these moments.

capturing these moments.

That’s really it.  And I have to laugh a bit.  I look over the list and think: what a hippy.  But it is what it is.  And I love it.

As far as nesting goes, I’m in a purging mode again.  And the itch to make a little corner of cuteness exists.  I’m really loving the hanging bassinets, and may make a little cove for this babe to call their own.

*I think pertussis really strengthened my core unlike before, even tho’ I was doing ballet all 9 months of Adyn’s pregnancy.  Weirdness, but I can still flex my abs, which are usually loooong gone by now.  It (pertussis) made eating a real challenge, so I was careful to make sure that the little I did put in packed a punch.  Or because we were so sick, being 9 months pregnant is a breeze… I also think that perhaps this baby will hang tight a little longer, so some of these “ailments” are yet to come… But we’ll see!  Braxton Hick’s contractions have gotten stronger and oftener since last week, so my body’s definitely getting ready!

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Energy Packing

Such a beautiful rainy day today!  The family’s all together again.  Scott has been working extra long hours for an extra long time, and spent the last weekend away in Nebraska with family and for Aunt Joyce’s funeral.  No airline would let me travel this close to Delivery Day, despite my trying to convince them I’d be juuuust fine birthing in the plane (I kid, I kid).  He had a wonderful, bonding time, but we sure missed him!  We have sweet loves for friends who kept us busy (distracted) at home and helped us with projects while Scott was gone.  But today: it’s all of us again.  Love.

We slept in ridiculously late.  Adyn made comfort foods for brunch.  The boys are all baking cookies and playing card games.  Kendra and I finished up the “birth kit,” and are just now focusing on a snack list for the big day:  Cheese.  Meats.  Nuts.  Fruits.  Nutrient-dense beverages.

This led to a tangent of “energy balls.”  We’ve never made them until today, but they seem a perfect addition to a laboring Mama (and crowd!):

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2/3 cup coconut flakes
  • 1/2 peanut butter
  • 1/2 ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix all together.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Roll into 1″ balls.  Store in air-tight container in fridge.

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yum.

I left the recipe pretty loose so you could play with the ingredients a little.  I used dark chocolate and raw honey.  We also used an all natural Sesame Cranberry Peanut Butter that was gifted us from Wild Friends.  I’d totally recommended – yummo!

Oh my heavens… Perusing recipes for energy balls online… There are so many flavors and scrumptious sounding options of tasty blends!  We’ve decided to make several other kinds with the excuse that the boys could use them while they’re out and about every day.  Next up will have pumpkin seeds and dried blueberries, I’m certain.  Might play with herbs and spices, too.

Yeah… there’s a strong possibility this batch will not last ’til the big day after all.

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Wow!  Another month has flown by since the last posting.  I’ve definitely gotten out of the habit.  I also wanted to take some time off of the internet, as it can impact the way one shapes their life – and I’d assume more reality once in a while.  I’ve stuck with mostly photo’s (less words) on social media.  More words to human faces.  It’s been a good season.  It’s also rejuvenated me to start again sharing my life here more.  A season of rest is a good thing.

In an effort to start somewhere, not knowing where that will be, I will start with sharing my today.

This morning we started with typical all-kids-piled-in-our-bed snuggles, followed by blueberry muffins Adyn had made from scratch.  Then on to chores; later, schooling.  This morning we decided to wean our 3 lambs (6 & 7 weeks, respectively) from the bottle.  They now spend their days with the big sheep, and are ready to graduate more fully.  By next Tuesday, our ewe lamb will live with the big girls; the boys in the hill pasture.  Segregation is a part of these fuzzy lives at this point in maturity.

As Kendra and I were leaving to art class, Adyn came and let us know that Scarlet had – at long last! – birthed a healthy baby boy out in the side field under the shady trees.  On a farm you’ve just got to be flexible.  Decked in our “town clothes” (don’t laugh, we have town clothes), we left the AC on in the car and went out to check on the two.  Scarlet looked great.  Baby needed a snip, dip, and Mama strip.  We left Adyn in charge to monitor feedings and placenta delivery.

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Oh the irony that we thought we were done bottle feeding this morning.

With a freezer full of milk, we’ll be able to use both Scarlet & Willow’s for the family after she shares her colostrum with the wee one.  More cheese.

This does leave us, however, one head over our chosen limit of sheep.  We’ll decide soon on Marley’s retirement plan and/or upping our goal for filling the freezer.  Marley has shown slight improvement in the last week and a half (we’ve battled keeping weight on her for a year and a half – she’s a heavy, heavy producer and it gets the better of her) as we’ve had one last idea to try and have been working on.  We may keep her through the milking season (or not).  Especially now that we have American Guinea Hogs coming early next week that would love the deliciousness.  We are thrilled to add bacon to our homestead meats again!  It’s feeling so much more well-rounded these days.  Especially knowing we’ll have duck & goose joining the lamb in the freezer soon.  Our chicken still comes from a farmer friend who raises it cheaper than we can.

We’re flooded in eggs right now.  Yesterday we got our first quail egg from the new hatch of girls.  Today they multiplied.  The goose egg basket is over-flowing.  Chickens are being generous.  The nettles and other spring greens are in full-swing.  I feel healthy these days.

Fresh homemade tortillas made by Kendra. Topped with portobello, onions and garlic, apples, lemon vinaigrette and wild nettles.

Fresh homemade tortillas made by Kendra. Topped with portobello, onions and garlic, apples, lemon vinaigrette and wild nettles.

It helps (feeling healthy) that this weekend I walked miles.  Miles, I tell you.  For anyone that knows me, I don’t walk.  It’s the weirdest thing in the world to me, and I’d rather be digging, hiking, hoe-ing, shoveling, exploring, planting, picking… well, just about anything other than “organized exercise.”  But this was different.  At the WSFB Leadership Conference, a fun fellow put together a Scavenger Hunt throughout a several-block radius of the hotel in Wenatchee we were staying at.  And this was no normal hunt.  It was ridiculous.  And hard.  I’d show you the blisters, but I don’t want you to get vomit in your keyboard.  I’ll spare you the clean up.  It was fantastic – and I felt really motivated to stay particularly on task with not letting my body just flop apart as I grow, grow, grow!

I’ve still been in a bit of denial.  I can’t wait to feel this little one move inside me.  Now and then I think I feel something, then remind myself that my digestive system has always been like a volcano looking to erupt.  Only it never does.  It just rumbles and grumbles like an old crotchety rocking chair, reminding me of it’s presence and control of my humiliation level.  All.  The.  Time.  More so in quiet moments.  Always when I wish it wouldn’t.  Story of my life.  Probably not the baby.  Yet.  A home doppler this round has made for every few nightly fun for the family!

I’ve been purging like mad.  Our home life has become too easy since we decided to let things go several years ago now.  I’d recommend it.  The more we give, the more we receive.  <chuckle>  And so 3 more boxes of clothes left the family closet today.  We can’t seem to keep to a minimum, and yet hardly ever buy.  I love it.  Swapping and sharing, hand-me-downs and re-gifting.  Never in need for long.  It’s a good way to live.

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Love her heart.

Late to art class due to Scarlet’s lovely addition to the farm, we stopped by to drop off a birthday gift for her instructor.  The other student had also not been able to show up, so we encouraged her to take the afternoon off, and left for errands and a girlie coffee date.  They’ll be back at it next week.  Working clay and making pottery.  I love how they continue to work all different mediums with their minds and hands.  I love how personal her classes are.  How intimate and bonding they’ve been.  How much Kendra can grow and blossom in it.

For those who hadn’t heard, Kendra submitted her first art piece to a high school level, agricultural Art Contest.  She won first place!  It was displayed over this past weekend, many asking to purchase it.  She did end up selling it to the Farm Bureau to frame and display in their state office in Lacey.  In November, it will be auctioned off to benefit young farmers & ranchers.  Prints are available for sale.  She is working on designing an online store to launch shortly.  We are beyond proud of her.  She has now also opened a banking account.  It’s awesome to see her success and potential future in a field she adores.

"Field of Dreams," painted on canvas using acrylics.

“Field of Dreams,” painted on canvas using acrylics.

As I type, a couple are on motorcycles running the track and yards.  Scott’s hard at work moving a hot tub we’ve added for fun.  Flynn is decked out in an apron and painting on an easel on the porch.  The sun is just setting leaving beautiful light.  Flynn’s playhouse solar lights are starting to pop on.  The hammock is looking awfully inviting swaying in the warm breeze.  So, so, so thankful for this quiet season.  This moment.

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