Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Learn Piano - Free e-book on November 5th

I've always wanted to learn how to play the piano.  When I was in middle school (grades 6-8), I played the French Horn.  Of course, as a young teenage girl, I wanted to play the flute or the clarinet as my first choice, but those spots filled up quickly.  So, I looked around and decided that the French Horn wasn't too bad of a consolation.  It was great learning how to read music, being a part of a group working toward a common goal, and being in the marching band was fun.  Except, marching band practice was very early.  I'm talking 7:30am, which is very early for a teenager!

When I reached high school, I became more interested in sports, student council, and other clubs, so I quit being in band.  Now that I'm in my thirties, and a mom, I appreciate my music experience more, and I wish I would have stuck with it and maybe even learned more instruments.

Piano is one of those instruments that I wish I would have learned as a child or young adult.  As a matter of fact, we actually had a piano at home for awhile and my sister took lessons.  But, at that point, I already had my mind on other things.  The only thing I learned on that piano was "Three Blind Mice."

However, now that I have a little one of my own, I have a renewed interest in learning music.  Tomorrow, Thursday, November 5, 2015, there is a promotion on Amazon for a FREE e-book on how to learn to play the piano.  I can't wait to download it myself, and start learning now, so that when June is 4 or 5 years old, I can help her learn.

Here is the link:
Piano Scales, Chords & Arpeggios Lessons with Elements of Basic Music Theory: Fun, Step-By-Step Guide for Beginner to Advanced Levels (Book & Videos)

This book and video course is all that you will ever need for learning piano chords, scales, arpeggios, and basic music theory! Piano Professor, Damon Ferrante guides you through 140 step-by-step lessons (for beginner to advanced levels) and 25 streaming videos that are designed to be interactive, engaging and fun. The lessons will greatly improve your piano technique, creativity, and understanding of music. Whether you are teaching yourself piano or learning with a music instructor, this book and video course will take your piano playing to a whole new level!

This step-by-step method, used by thousands of pianists, has been proven to reduce the effort, time, and expense of piano learning--to make you play better than ever! You will now have everything that you need to know about chords, scales, arpeggios, and basic music theory. The course is designed for all levels.

There are also Instructional Videos to go along with the book, so that you have all the tools you need to learn how to play.

This book is great for everyone - young and old! If you download the book tomorrow, please take a week to read it and watch the videos, then consider writing an Amazon review. If you do, please click, "Amazon-Verified Purchase". The reviews should be around 5-10 sentences long. Then let me know that you wrote a review and heard about the book from me!

Remember, the e-book is free tomorrow!
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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Chicken Poop on the Porch (Free Range Chicken Problems)

In the spring, we bought 8 chicks from the local feed supply store.  They are almost full grown now; and the 6 hens are laying eggs.  We love collecting the eggs each day, and nothing beats the taste of fresh, free range eggs.  But...there is a dark side to free-ranging your chickens:  Chicken Poop on the Porch.

At first, the chickens stayed pretty close to their coop.  Then they got brave and ventured to the tractor shed.  A few weeks went by, and they traveled even farther to the garage.  And now here we are...the chickens think they own the whole property, including the house.  

The rooster walks right up to the back door to say hello every morning.  It is a misnomer that roosters only crow at dawn.  Our rooster crows all day.  All day.  The chickens love being on the back porch and the front porch.  And they make a lot of droppings during the day.  Which usually isn't a big deal, until their droppings are on your path out the door.  Then it is pretty gross.

How to Clean Chicken Poop Off the Porch
1st step:  Once it is dry, just sweep it off (don't try to sweep it while it is wet.  Yuck.).  I have a dedicated outdoor broom for these types of jobs.  I like having a broom with strong, stiff bristles.  

If you still have residue after sweeping, take out the hose and spray down the porch.  If you have some stubborn messes, you'll have to get out the scrubber.  Again, buy a specific scrubber for this job.  You don't want to scrub the bathtub with the same brush you use for cleaning chicken poop.  If you need to disinfect, any household cleaner should do the trick.  I'm partial to using what I have on hand, like Dawn dish soap or laundry detergent.  

Of course, all the cleaning isn't going to prevent the chickens from visiting again tomorrow.  But, as much as I dislike having chicken poop on the porch, I do love letting them free-range.  June loves to watch them out the back door.  And that's really the only reason I need.  So, I can deal with the daily mess for now.

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Thursday, June 4, 2015

June is here!

(This post was written in November, but I took a blog break for awhile.  To capture the memory, I'm posting it now).

Our sweet baby girl arrived on November 16, 2014 at 7:21am.  We named her June.  She is such an amazing blessing, and she arrived into this world in a memorable way.

Here is her birth story:

Around 11:30pm on Saturday, November 15, 2014, I started having contractions.  I wasn’t sure what they were at first, but Seth realized I was restless, so he asked me what was happening.  We decided that I should get in the bathtub for a while and drink a couple large glasses of water to see if they stopped or slowed down. 

By 12:30am, the contractions had become more intense and longer.  Each were about 35 seconds long, with each contraction beginning about 2 minutes after the prior one started.   Around 12:50, we texted our doula, Becky, to let her know what was happening.  We didn’t hear back from her, so we called her at 1:15am.  Her mom answered her phone and told us that Becky was on her way to the Midwife’s Place birth center already, with Suzanne.  Suzanne is a friend from church that was due around the same day as me.  Becky was also her doula.  We tried contacting Becky by texting Suzanne’s phone, but since Suzanne was in labor, we didn’t get ahold of her.  Contractions continued to get longer, closer together, and more intense.

Shortly after that, we decided we better head to the birth center.  The drive is about 1 ½ hours from our house.  We had gotten some snow earlier that day, and the roads weren’t too bad, but they were slick in places.  When we got to the interstate, Seth called the birth center to let them know that we were coming.  Rachael, our midwife, asked some questions about the contractions, and we told her our doula was already there.  She said that if we weren’t progressed enough, she would send us walking, just to prepare us for what might happen.

The drive was mostly silence, with me squeezing Seth’s hand and using my phone to time the contractions.  They continued to get more intense throughout the drive.  I could tell that Seth would accelerate when I squeezed his hand during a contraction.  I had my eyes closed for most of the ride, but I knew that we were getting closer and closer to our exit.  When we finally exited at Bellevue, there were road crews salting and scraping the roads.  At one point, Seth had to put on his hazards and pass the trucks on the shoulder to get past them.

We arrived at the birth center around 3:30am.  Just as we arrived, we heard a cry from the other room.  Suzanne had had her baby!  Seth helped me into the birthing room, where Rachael helped me onto the bed to check my progress.  I was 6cm dilated and 100% effaced, which is the perfect time to arrive at the birth center.  We didn’t need to leave.  This baby was coming soon!

I decided to get in the tub to start laboring in there.  Rachael started filling it up, but had to check on Suzanne and her baby.  Becky didn’t yet know that we were there.  It was a little while later when Rachael told Becky.  I think Rachael thought that we had already contacted her.  Seth was with me the whole time, I used him as support through each contraction.  

While in the tub, I was progressing well, and contractions continued to intensify.  I stayed in one position for awhile, but when Becky did come in, she encouraged me to change positions.  After laboring in the tub, and a little outside the tub, I asked Becky if I could have Rachael check me.  I wanted to know if it was time to push.  Rachael checked me at about 6:20am.  She said I was 10 cm dilated, and encouraged me to push.  I got back in the tub and knelt or squatted during contractions.  I pushed for about 1 hour, and was able to reach down and feel the baby’s head a couple times.  Throughout the entire labor, Seth, Becky, and Rachael were all very encouraging and supportive.  They helped me with my breathing and keeping the moaning low.  I didn’t talk much, but I felt supported the whole time.  I used Seth as physical support by grasping his hands and pulling with all my strength. 

At 7:21am, baby June arrived!  She was born in the water, immediately placed on my chest, and able to stay there until the umbilical cord stopped pulsing.  Once it had, Seth cut the cord, and they gave June to Seth to continue the skin to skin contact.  I then delivered the placenta, and Rachel helped clean me up.  I was then able to join Seth on the bed to snuggle and nurse our new baby girl.  It was an amazing birth experience, and a miracle to experience.  We are so thankful to Rachael and Becky for supporting us.  And I’m so thankful that Seth was there the whole time to help me feel secure and confident to have a natural, medication-free birth.

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Friday, October 10, 2014

Friday Five

Here are some of my favorite things from this week:

1.  Pumpkin Spice
It is that time of year where you can find pumpkin spice everything.  This youtube video from last year pretty much sums it up:  Pumpkin Spice Movie Trailer
I've enjoyed a few Pumpkin Spice Chai lattes or Pumpkin Spice 1/2 caffeine lattes this season.  I've also made pumpkin bread, pumpkin bars, and pumpkin creme brulee.  And Seth loves pumpkin, so I'm sure there are more recipes in my future this Fall.

2.  The Treasure Principle
This is a small book by Randy Alcorn, only 120 pages.  Seth and I have been reading it together before we go to bed.  It really puts giving into perspective.  I love how he relates giving to storing our treasures up in heaven instead of here on earth (Matthew 6:20).  It has definitely convicted me to take a look at where we are spending our money, and how much we are giving.  I would highly recommend it.

Here are the six keys:

1.  God owns everything; I’m His money manager.  We are the managers of the assets God has entrusted—not given—to us.

2.  My heart always goes where I put God’s money.  Watch what happens when you reallocate your money from temporal things to eternal things.

3.  Heaven—the New Earth, not the present one—is my home.  We are citizens of "a better country—a heavenly one" (Hebrews 11:16).

4.  I should live today not for the dot, but for the line. From the dot—our present life on earth—extends a line that goes on forever, which is eternity in Heaven.

5.  Giving is the only antidote to materialism.  Giving is a joyful surrender to a greater person and a greater agenda. It dethrones me and exalts Him.

6. God prospers me not to raise my standard of living, but to raise my standard of giving.  God gives us more money than we need so we can give—generously.

3.  Early Home Class
We attended a class at the birthing center last night.  We are delivering at a stand-alone birthing center, where the mom, dad, and baby go home around 4-6 hours after baby is born.  If there are complications or issues, they'll transfer you to the hospital for a longer stay.  However, if all goes well, Lord willing, we are excited to be able to go back to the comfort of our own home shortly after Baby J arrives.  The class was very informative, and helped us to be aware of issues to watch out for, and what to expect those first few days after our baby arrives.  Every week, things are getting more real!  We are also taking a breastfeeding class this Saturday!

4.  Coconut Oil
We've had coconut oil around the house for over a year, but I wasn't quite sure how to use it.  I'm still learning about all its benefits, but one thing I've done is replace my body lotion with coconut oil.  It's a little tricky, because it is solid at 75 degrees and a liquid at higher temperatures.  Our house is not 75 degrees this time of year, so I have to 'thaw' it under hot water before I can effectively apply it.  There are a ton of benefits to using coconut oil on your skin.  A quick Google search will tell you that it is great, and it doesn't have all the artificial stuff that lotion has in it! 

5.  Almost 34 weeks pregnant
The interwebs tell me that my baby is about the size of a large cantaloupe (last week she was a pineapple).  She is about 17.7 inches long from head to heel and weight almost 5 pounds!  Don't you love the comparisons to fruits and vegetables that they use to tell us how big baby's are in the womb?  At least cantaloupe and pineapple are familiar fruits.  One week, my baby was the size of a rutabaga.  Now, I don't know about you, but I do not feast on rutabagas very often, so I had no idea how big that was!

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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Baby Shower Blessings

I can't believe that I will be at 34 weeks on Saturday.  Pregnancy has been such a wonderful blessing.  I love feeling our little girl kick and move around.  Although I am excited to meet her, I'm perfectly content carrying her until full term.  She's easy to care for inside my belly!

Here's an update:
33 weeks + 5 days (33 weeks in the picture)

Maternity clothes?
Yes!  They are so much more comfortable.  I've tried to squeeze into some non-maternity shirts still, but those aren't really fitting anymore either.

I'm sleeping pretty well.  Baby J is moving around a little more at bedtime, and I usually wake up at least once to use the restroom.  But I'm still getting good sleep!

Best moment this week?
Baby shower!  More about that below.

Some round ligament pain and swelling in my legs and ankles.  I also have had some sore joints in my fingers when I wake up in the morning.  I find that if I drink a lot of water during the day, that helps.

Food cravings?
Just sugar and carbs.  I usually eat pretty healthy and we cook and eat almost all our meals at home, but there is just too much junk around at work.

Food aversions?
Nothing new.  The stuff I didn't like before, I still don't like (pickles, mustard, fish, etc).

Lots and lots of kicks and shifting from Baby J.  She continues to be active every day.  My sister got to feel her kick on Saturday!


Labor signs?
None. No recognizable Braxton Hicks either.

Belly button in or out?
Sorta out, sorta in.  I think it depends on where baby is positioned.

What I miss?
Nothing!  I already feel like our life has changed, and I know when she is here, it'll be a whole new world!

What I'm looking forward to?
We are still working on our upstairs bedroom.  Our house was built in 1910, and although previous owners have done a lot of updating, we still have some to make it our own.    

Seth has been installing electrical this week to add a light switch, light in the closet, and additional outlets.

Here are the walls after the wallpaper had been removed.  The walls are plaster.  There was a lot of cracks and damage.

Here are the walls after a coat of skim coat (thinned out plaster).  You can see the floors below.  We had those refinished a few months ago.

We are looking forward to getting this room finished, so we can have our bedroom on the same floor as the nursery.

I had two wonderful baby showers over the last couple of weeks.

The first shower on September 26th was hosted by a co-worker.  She hosted a dual shower for me and a co-worker that is due just a few weeks before me. It was a great, laid back shower on a Friday evening after work.  I really enjoyed getting together with my fellow work-ladies to talk outside of work and share baby stories.

The second shower was held on Oct 4th for my family.  It was about 2 hours away from where I live.  And my sister, Emily, and my Aunt Kris and Cousin Missy hosted the shower at my Aunt Kris' and Uncle Ken's house.  They have a beautiful house out in the country with a pond.  Even the guys came, and fished and watched the kids while we did the girly shower stuff!

My younger sister, Emily
My dad came from 4 hours away!
My sister, my mom, and me
A beautiful knitted dress that my mother-in-law made
Seth, me, my MIL, & my FIL
It was a great shower.  I was also so happy to have so many of my loved ones together for a day.  It had been since Christmas when I'd seen some of my cousins and family.

We got so many wonderful gifts for Baby J.  I can't believe the love and support we have received from everyone around us.  We have so many things to start out our lives with our little girl!

My sister also took a few maternity pictures for us.  Most are on her camera, so I'll share more later!

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

30 weeks

I cannot believe I’ve reached the 30 week mark of this pregnancy. It has really gone by fast and the pregnancy has been pleasant. I hardly had any morning sickness, and except for some tiredness, I’ve felt great. I’m seeing a Midwife at a stand-alone birth center for prenatal care and will deliver at the same birth center. It is important to me to have a natural birth without interventions and medication. I’ll also be using the support of a doula during labor and delivery. We had an appointment earlier this week, and everything looks good and Baby Girl is head down, so that is good news! I have to constantly remind myself that this is real, and I thank the Lord every day for seeing us fit to become parents.
Here’s a summary:
How far along?
30 weeks + 5 days today (30 weeks in the picture)

Maternity clothes?
Oh yes! I was blessed by a lot of borrowed maternity clothes from women at church, my sister and sister-in-law, so I’ve only purchased two pairs of pants and a couple maternity tanks.

Pretty good, once I fall asleep. Sometimes it takes some moving around to get comfortable, and I’ve had some seasonal allergies that clog up my nose. But Breath Right strips help!

Best moment this week?
At the midwife appointment where she told me that baby has her head down (and will probably stay that way, yay!) and hearing her heartbeat. J

Some round ligament pain and some veiny legs, but nothing to complain about

Food cravings?
Pumpkin spice latte from Caribou (1/2 caff) or Pumpkin spice chai latte. Yummy.

Food aversions?
None really.

Lots and lots of kicks and shifting from Baby J. She is so active, and I love feeling her move around and sharing that with Seth. 


Labor signs?
None. I haven’t really noticed any Braxton Hicks yet. But I probably just don’t recognize them.

Belly button in or out?
Still in, but I think it might pop out before too long.

What I miss?
Nothing! I love being pregnant. I wouldn’t trade a deli meat sandwich or a beer for any of this.
Here's Baby J's 20 week ultrasound.

What I'm looking forward to? 
Finishing our upstairs bedrooms and living area. And upcoming baby showers.

We’ve been working a lot on our house to prepare for baby. There are three bedrooms upstairs and one bedroom on the main level. The nursery is upstairs, so we are moving our master bedroom upstairs also. Back in April, we ripped out all the carpet and had the original 100-year old wood floors refinished. Then in June, we had the damaging hail storm, which we are still working on completing repairs and replacements. Over the summer, we worked on the new master bedroom by tearing down some awful wallpaper. Unfortunately, we discovered that it was covering up some less-than-perfect plaster walls. So, we are in process of skim-coating or resurfacing the walls with joint compound. It is a long process, but when we are done, we hope to have smooth walls with no cracks. I’ll post before and after pictures when we are finished.

We’ve already been blessed with a lot of baby things, and I haven’t even had a shower yet. My mother-in-law gave us a crib, pack & play, activity mat, jogging stroller, and a lot of other misc needs. She has also knitted four beautiful blankets, two adorable outfits, and some hats, mittens, etc. She has been amazing and supportive. The nursery is coming together. We still need to hang curtains and some wall art. Plus, we’ve been on the lookout for a rocker to use in the baby’s room. I’ve also decided to cloth diaper, and my sister-in-law has been generous with diapers she is no longer using. Others have also been so generous with items given to us or lent to us.  

Here's a sneak peek of the nursery.  The dresser we bought from IKEA.  Oh boy, was it an ordeal to get this thing, but that's a story for another post.

Fall is beginning out at our place, and we’ve started to think about firewood and heating over the winter months. We refilled our propane tank. Last winter, propane prices skyrocketed to over $4/gallon when they are normally around $1.50/gallon. So, we primarily relied on our woodburning stove and space heaters for warmth. This year, with a little baby, we want to be prepared for a cold winter, so we’ll have propane, wood, and electric covered.

We are just in awe almost every day with the blessings that God has given us.  What a great and faithful Lord we have!

Things have been busy around here, but I'll try to post more in the next few months as we prepare for our whole lives to change! 

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Acreage update

I've been even more absent than normal from blogging lately. Mostly because of being pre-occupied with the little precious miracle I'm carrying!

On Monday, I took Seth to the airport. He is going to be gone for almost 3 weeks for work. We’ve been getting some good momentum on projects around the house, so it is disappointing he has to go right now in the middle of summer. On the bright side, I’m in my 2nd trimester and can still do a lot of things on my own, but I’m also really sad that he is missing out on one of our midwife appointments and two birth classes.

In the meantime, I have plenty of projects to work on at home. We are moving our master bedroom upstairs to be closer to the nursery. We spent a weekend tearing down wallpaper in our new bedroom, but we aren’t quite finished yet. There was wallpaper on the ceiling, in the closets, everywhere! This stuff was stuck on and was planning on staying. Unfortunately, after all the wallpaper was removed, we learned that the walls need some repairs. Not just patching a couple holes, but filling in large cracks and making the walls more even. I might try this technique of skim coating the walls. I'll try to take some pictures and post them soon.

While Seth has been gone for, oh, about two full days. I've kept him up-to-date on things going on at the 'ol homestead.

For example, we have some precious little 5 week old kittens.  And he just has to know everything they are doing.  So naturally I text him pictures and explain the details of their lives. 

Here they are scarfing down some tuna.  Wow, did they love it.  They've be limited to mama's milk and hard food until yesterday.  This tuna made their day.
Here is a tiny toad that I found in our garage.  Now, we normally have toads in our garage, but this one was tiny, therefore I had to text Seth a picture.  It is blurry, I know.  Phone cameras do that sometimes.
Here is the tiniest frog ever discovered.  I'm sure of it.  Actually Seth found this frog, but I wanted to share it with you, because it is so cute.
And some more cuteness, just because it is a Wednesday.  Trixie playing with the kittens.  We call them "Acreage Buddies". 
And the two black and white kittens being adorable.

Seriously, having kittens is so much fun.  We found home for the two black and white kittens above.  We are still looking for a home for the little gray tiger-stripped kitty.  If we have to keep her/him, I suppose that would be okay.  :) 

Have a great day!
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