Friday, April 10, 2015

15 Things I Have Learned From Parenting

To be clear.
These are things I have learned and I thought I’d put these thoughts down to share.  I am not telling you I think I know it all or that we should all parent the same way.  This is just what I have realized over the last 7 years.  It may change.  It may not.  




  1. Every faze ends.  Really.  One day you realize that the meltdowns over how a sock is to be worn have stopped and you don’t know how, but you are thankful.  “This too shall pass”
  2. Sometimes it does take a village.  75% of the time, they just need you.  But sometimes it’s OK to let the village help.
  3. Accept help when it is offered (hard for me, too).
  4. Your children are all individuals and need one on one time with you.  This does not mean, however, that you need to spend an entire day bending to every whim.  It means that you should use those few moments in the car at the bus stop to have a conversation or be sure to tuck them each in with a kiss and a hug and I love you’s and little prayers and snuggles.  They all need it to know you are willing to do it, even if they don’t really want you to actually do it, lol.
  5. Kids will not eat everything you make, but they can try it.  If they still don’t like it, whatever.  Just try to make their daily nutrition balanced.  And then there are times when it won’t be, and they will live.  
  6. You can make it all even.  I try and try and try to make everything even and balanced, but somehow, its still “not fair!” Grrr.  
  7. Kids are brutally honest sometimes.  It might sting a little, but they aren’t trying to hurt you.  Do not take anything out of their beautiful little mouths to heart unless it’s adorable and sweet and you want it to be the truth <3
  8. The laundry will never end.  There is literally no point in time when everything is clean.
  9. Kids make messes.  They can clean some of them themselves.  Others will need your attention.  Sometimes it’s ok to leave a mess sit.
  10. Every parent in history has felt overwhelmed at some point.  It is an overwhelming job!  I read another blog where the women said she gets through the moments when she is frozen with indecision by telling herself “just do the next thing.”  It’s really helpful.  Yes, there are likely many things that need to done, but you can only do one or two immediately.  Just evaluate, list in order of importance, and then do the next thing.  
  11. Nothing stays the same.  
  12. They are little for far too long.  
  13. You will never know everything and it’s ok.
  14. Take or leave advice as you see fit.  Nothing is really one size fits all.
  15. You can get a lot done in Survival Mode.  Maybe you didn’t shower today or the kids are still in their PJ’s, but the laundry is running, the blog posts are written and the bills are paid.  It’s a pretty good day :)  


My list could go on and on.  I have been writing this in my head for about a week and I keep coming up with new lessons I’ve learned.  Parenting teaches you so much.  Kids teach you so much.  

What lessons have you learned?  Please share!


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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Parent Shopping Hack

I'm assuming that if you are reading this blog, you likely have children or may be heading that direction. Something that I never considered before having baby #2 is how you are supposed to go grocery shopping  with a baby and toddler. Unless you wear your baby in a carrier, the cart is full of kids!

I'm all for wearing baby, but many times they are asleep when I get that the store and I don't want to wake them by taking them out of the seat. Or its super hot out and I sweat 90% of the day in the dead of winter. Or ( and this is the biggest reason) I'm not comfortable with being put in a situation where baby is on me and I have to wrangle a toddler. Bending over and sometimes having to move very quickly leaves the baby too vulnerable for my liking.

Enter my cart/basket combo.




One day at the store I walked by the stack of baskets and thought that if I could fit that underneath the cart, it would add some needed storage.  As luck would have it, it works at some stores. I feel like it's even been a consideration at our local wegmans.

Now, some stores are not as easy (looking at you Target) so I came up with another idea.

Those little hooks that you can buy to hang things from your stroller can be hung from the handle of the cart to support the handle of the basket (Munchkin Stroller Hook).

This is a bit more combersom, but it is way better than the alternarives.

I'm sure you are familiar with the carts with benches, buggies and also, the dreaded "customer in training" carts? Nope, nope and nope.

The big carts with benches and cars on the front are like 18 wheelers and I get dirty looks and comments from people with my regular cart plus kids taking too long or taking up too much space. 

Also, the cars are germ factories. My kids were never sick until just after I let my oldest ride in one for the first time...after sanitizing. Guess what? Strep.

Side rant: 

Where else besides home and work are you going to find people with families? The grocery store, buying food for said families. Doesn't it stand to reason that you are going to encounter parents and children in the store? People need to stop acting like we don't belong there. Again, dirty looks and comments. And my kids are pretty well behaved. End side rant...

So, if you are tired of trying to fit your stuff in around children and carseats, this may be helpful to you. 

If I'm way behind on this, I apologize. Please don't burst my bubble. I feel like a genius everytime I do it ;)




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Friday, March 6, 2015

A Sense of the Resurecction-30% off!

A Sense of the Resurrection: an Easter Experience for Families contains 12 fun, hands-on, easy, meaningful activities to help your kids come face to face with the Easter story.

Last year I introduced you to A Sense of the Resurrection, written by Amanda White.  I love the idea of sharing the Easter story with my children in a way that they can understand.  It can be a tough story to explain to young ones and I don't mind that someone has done the hard work for me ;)





Lent has begun already, but there is stil time to enjoy the activities provided by Amanda so that your children can focus on the season as it was intended, not just thinking about Easter Bunnies and Egg hunts.





Right now, you can get 30% off your order!!! 







Thursday, March 5, 2015

Peanut's Birth Story

It’s been a crazy few weeks, but I am finally back and ready to tell the story of our Peanut's arrival.

As I told you before, I was scheduled for induction on Wednesday, January 21st due to my high blood pressure. I was terribly nervous this time.  I don’t really know why exactly, but I was literally shaking all morning waiting to go to the hospital.  When I called in to find out my time, I was told to be there at 8:30 for registration and to decide how to move forward with the induction.
Things officially got started around 10 am that morning with my water being broken and then progressed to IV fluids and a Pitocin drip to intensify my contractions.  It was slow going at first, but it picked up by the afternoon and I was ready for an epidural (judge all you want - it’s heaven at that point) at 3pm.  

Things were pretty peaceful from then on and the only pain I had was in my back and neck from straining during my contractions.  I tend to hold my tension there and it manifests pretty intensely during labor, no matter how much I fight it.  Bt 6pm I was nearly ready to push and it was a flurry of activity getting the doctor in the room and setting up.
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By the time we were ready to push, I didn’t have to.  My body did everything for me and I our little peanut was born without one push. I was offered a mirror to watch the birth, which I have always refused out of fear, but this being our last baby, I didn’t want to miss any experience.  I said yes and I am so happy that I did.  I have a wonderful memory of seeing my baby’s birth from a totally different perspective.  And if I hadn’t seen him come out of me I might be convinced that he isn’t one of mine.  I also might not have believed that the umbilical cord could be wrapped around a baby's neck 4 times and intertwined with his entire body without somehow being noticed on one of the bagillion ultrasounds I had leading up to delivery...


Peanut was born at 6:55pm on January 21st, 2015
7 Ibs, 1.3oz
19 inches long

He was a full inch shorter and more than a pound lighter than any of my other children!  I can’t believe how small he is even now, 4 weeks later!

This is where I rave about the new procedures and Maternity Pavilion at the Chester County Hospital.  The labor and delivery was so peaceful and since my last baby, they have instituted a full hour of skin to skin for mommy and baby before they do anything at all.  No drops, no weighing, nothing happens until skin to skin is over.  

If you are unfamiliar with skin to skin, its when the baby lays directly on the mother”s chest, skin to skin.  It helps sooth baby as well as regulate body temperature.
Peanut latched and nursed like a champ and things seemed perfect.
I was taken to my room by a team of nurses (not just one or two) who made a huge deal of my experience and birth story and made sure that I was very comfortable and fed in my brand new room.  It was beautiful.  The bathroom with the waterfall shower was better than what I have at home and I enjoyed it immensely.

I guess because he was so much smaller and I didn’t have to push, I actually felt as though I had not just had a baby.  The next day it was almost disturbing.  I was concerned that I was not feeling like a truck had run me over (don’t be jealous.  I’m usually a blubbering basket case that can hardly walk for weeks).

The hospital staff was super efficient in getting all his tests done and completely non invasive with my care.  I was really impressed when they actually had me ready to go at discharge time that Friday morning-even before my husband could get there pick us up.

My older kids were staying with Grandma for the weekend, so it was just Me, Daddy, Peanut and Booboo.  We thought that the time was good for us to let the our youngest adjust before having all four together.  

Then some weird stuff began to happen.  I noticed that Peanut was having what looked like little convulsions. They were somewhat concerning because of the length of time they would go on for, but he seemed fine otherwise. Babies can do some weird looking stuff because of their immature nervous systems, so I figured that’s what it was.  

When I took him this first doctors appointment on Monday, I was told he looked great.  I thought I would just mention the convulsions to see what they could be and I was shocked when they immediately got a Neurologist on the phone to describe the episodes.  I was told that we needed to go directly to The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to have him evaluated for possible seizures!

We were admitted for 3 days.  During that time he brain was monitored for unusual activity and he was recorded to catch any episodes he may have.  While there, he had multiple episodes that each seemed more disturbing that the last and we were terrified of what we would learn.  We also found out that despite his great form and latch, he was not getting anywhere near enough fluid from breastfeeding.

I was instructed to begin pumping and bottle feeding as well as nursing and supplementing with formula until his weight was up and my supply was steady.  In the mean time, they put Peanut on IV fluids.  In 20 minutes, he was like a different baby.
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Where his skin had seemed baggy and thin, he plumped up and filled out.  Where he had been lethargic or  fussy when awake, he seemed pleasant and content.  His color went from yellowish to pink.  The poor thing had been dehydrated all along.  Once the fluids were in, he stopped having the episodes and we heard from Neurology that there was no abnormal brain activity at all.  The episodes he was having can only be attributed to his dehydration.

We were released from CHOP in the late afternoon on Wednesday, January 28th.  The team of doctors and nurses that we worked with were amazing and I am grateful to be close to such a phenomenal hospital.  I just don’t ever want to go back ;)

We were very fortunate that there was a quick and easy fix to the problem, I only wish it would have been obvious at first.  We avoided many invasive tests, but I still would have loved for him not to have gone through the whole experience.  I look back on the whole thing and wonder what I could have done differently or think on what I should have noticed earlier, but it’s done and over with now.  

Thankfully, he is eating like a champ now.  I pump and nurse for more than half of his feedings and then the rest I fill in with formula.  It’s what we have done for all of our kid, actually, but for different reasons.  He looks really good now and we are so relieved for the scary stuff to be over.

We look forward to seeing how this little guy changes and who he becomes.  I feel like we are only really seeing Booboo’s personality really shine just these last few months and I can’t wait to see the same with Peanut!




Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Understanding the Affordable Care Act and Navigating the Marketplace

The Affordable Care Act helps more people gain access to affordable health insurance, guarantees coverage for preexisting conditions and provides financial assistance to those who qualify.  The Marketplace is where individuals and families can shop and compare plans to find what fits their needs best.  Open enrollment began November 15th and closes February 15th.  The time to make your choice is now.


I know, I know, I have yet to post any pictures or the birth story of our newest little one.  I promise that this is in the works, but due to the Marketplace deadlines, I felt that this was of some urgency.


As I have talked a bit about over the last few years, our family has gone through many transitions that have made health insurance an issue for us.  Prior to April 2012, we participated in a wonderful plan that was offered through the company that my husband worked for.  When we made the decision for my husband to go back to school full time, making me the only one working, we lost that coverage and we became well aware of what healthcare can cost for a family.  Shortly after that we found out that we were pregnant with our third child and my pregnancy was considered a preexisting condition.  We were able to participate with CHIP for our children and then we paid full price for my husband and myself.  It was an astronomical amount of money.  


Since then, it seems like most companies are offering high deductible plans which may not be cost effective for some. It certainly wasn't for us The Marketplace is where you can find plans to compare and find what works best for you.


Since the open enrollment period ends in a matter of days, United Healthcare, our current Insurance provider, has asked me  to offer information and tips to make the best decision - to take the guess work out of the process for those still on the fence about what to do.


The more you know about the Affordable Care Act, the better prepared you'll be to make smart decisions about your coverage. First, learn about what has changed in health care. The ACA has raised the Medicaid limits in some states so more are eligible and is offering subsidies to eligible income levels above medicaid but still in the realm of struggling. See what open enrollment is all about and why it matters to you. Essentially, you need to use the time of open enrollment to get the proper health plan bought and set for your family. Find a plan by February 15th to have coverage from the marketplace in 2015. There are certain qualifying events that allow you to use a special enrollment period. The exchanges or the marketplace is a website that allows you to compare plans from a variety of providers much like Travelocity. This website will be either the government Healthcare.gov website or your state’s individual marketplace website. (The video clips have more details about each of those topics and once the website is live we will have even more tools to learn more from.)



Now you know a little more about health care and why reform matters…now you need to know what exactly you’re buying.


Insurance companies want you to be healthy, and health insurance is actually cheaper for you if you are. That is why preventative care and other measures are being covered by insurance more often now. Health plans are annual and there are only a few ways to switch, whether a major life event occurred or its open enrollment time. It’s important to look at deductibles, co­pays, premiums and maximum out­ of ­pocket as well as the what is covered when comparing health plans. Think about your family and what kinds of things you see doctors for, get prescriptions for, or have operations for. Your health insurance costs can be affected by how much coverage, deductibles, and co­pays you take.



So, you are discovering all of this new information about health care and what’s involved in the shopping process, but it’s only fair that you should know how to get the most out of your health care plan. Costs within health care can be daunting. Check your deductible and out-of-pockets on a regular basis to stay ahead. When deciding on a plan, look for value ads provided by the company such as nurse lines, apps, and health club discounts too! Also, make sure to ask you Doctor how much medical tests will cost and if there are less costly alternatives. Take a few minutes to watch these short videos to find out more.


Visit United Healthcare and UHC TV for more information and videos.

Health insurance is such a huge thing-so important for you as an individual or your family.  I hope that you found this post informative and helpful.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

It Works! Greens

Now that I am facing my induction date I am reflecting back on this pregnancy and I think that despite a few issues, this has been my healthiest pregnancy and there are only a few things that I have done differently.  The main thing that I maintained was using my  all time favorite product that It Works! distributes, Greens.  It's a powdered drink mix contains 8 servings of fruits and vegetables plus a probiotic!  Two scoups (or one On The Go packet) in the morning and you are "in the black" for your produce consumption for the day.  

I take mine first thing in the morning either in my smoothie, juice or in a glass of water.  I prefer the berry flavored which is sweetened with Stevia, but there is also an orange flavor that is unsweetened and has just hint of citrus.  Put it in juice and you don't taste a thing.  I haven't tried it yet, but I hear mixing a scoup of each is delicious!


The next product is also in the Greens family.  These are the Greens Chews.  While they still contain the plant power that the original Greens contains, the purpose is different, so the formula is as well.

Where Greens focus on detox and alkalization, Greens chews boost your defenses against free radicals with the antioxidant power of 20 cartons of blue berries and supports digestion with prebiotic fiber.

The two products can act alone but are formulated to complimnet one another perfectly.



I often send out little packages like this to people who want to try the Greens and see if they like it before ordering them.  I would be happy to do the same for you!  Email me at JensHealthyFuture [at] gmail[dot]com and I would be happy to answer any questions that you have and/or send out some samples for you to try! (Plus a coupon for the Ultimate Boday Applicator)


If you are looking for a way to get in some extra nutriton or detox, Greens are definitely an easy and great tasting way to do this.  Also, my kids love it and it totally makes me happy to see them enjoy something so good for them, especially when we go through fazes where all the want to do is graze. At least I know they are getting solid nutrition.



Please contact me or visit my website http:.//JensHealthyFuture.com


Saturday, January 17, 2015

37 Weeks Pregnant with No. 4

I can't believe that I haven't posted in 5 weeks!  I mean, I sorta can, because it has been crazy around here.  But 5 weeks flew by and now I am sweating these last 3 weeks like crazy.  It could be any day now that this little mister makes his debut.  Or it could be 3 weeks...

I feel like it's just around the corner.  Contractions have picked up and I have installed the contraction counter app on my phone.  It has been used to track my evening contractions that seem to creep up around 7pm.  I can't tell you why.  They aren't the only ones that I have, though.  I hope that they are doing something at this point.  I don't feel like these are Braxton Hicks - they are much too painfully sharp.

According to my dr at the last appointment, I am dilated to about 1cm, which is totally normal at 37 weeks and somewhat disappointing for someone expecting her 4th.  I'd love to find out I am about 3 cm at my next appointment.  Probably wishful thinking, but I can dream!


Friday, December 5, 2014

32 Weeks

32 Weeks, so that means 8 weeks until my due date.



I have really had it good up until this point.  This pregnancy (other than the morning sickness that I was able to thwart using this remedy), things have been very good.  I don't know if it has actually been easier or if I have been effectively distracted by my other children and life in general, but there haven't been many compliants.

Well, yesterday, things seemed to take a turn.  One I was completely expecting earlier on and then things were just fine. So I thought that maybe this would be a relatively uneventful pregnancy.

The Good:
I had an ultrasound yesterday and I was thrilled to find out that baby is finally head down and in position!  That is great news because he has been breech since I have been having ultrasounds and I was getting really worried about having a C-section.  He is doing great! Had a non-stress test and he was perfect, he's growing like crazy (over 5 Ibs already!) and fluid levels were good.  We could even see that he has some hair :)

The Bad:
Then I went to a regular OB appointment and discovered that my blood pressure was really high.  Not higher than it has ever been, but higher than it's been since before I was put on medication (standard for me during pregnancy).  I was nearly sent to Labor and Delivery for monitoring, but thank goodness they decided to settle for home monitoring and returning in a few days.  We talked about a plan moving forward and it sounds like higher doses of medication and possible bedrest.  I will likely be induced early if I don't naturally go into labor by 38 weeks, so that really leaves me with only maybe 6 weeks.  (If this sounds sever for one high BP reading, it's not for me.  All of my pregnancies have resulted in dangerously high BP that needs to be monitored and usually has me in line for inductiuon unless I can bring labor on myself, which I have done rather successfully).

My concerns going into my appointment were the constant dizziness and weak muscles/shakiness that I have been experiencing for the last 2 weeks.  Being on my feet has become very problematic.  I can hardly hold my son and my energy level has decreased dramatically.  I have also been having panic attacks at night - a sure sign that my anxiety/depression/hormone combo is getting to the point of needing intervention.  I knew these symptoms were probably something bigger, but I operate in a wied limbo of "do I or don't I call the doctor?" becuase I am usually told it's normal for me and to rest more. Yeah.

The new doctor at my practice was so awesome and understanding it was almost shocking.  I usually have to ask questions about everything as they are running out the door, but I was really impressed by how he took his time and talked with me so thouroughly about what was happening.  Things could be so much worse than they are, but I am definitely feeling a little defeated, where I was feeling pretty triumfant just yesterday.

No picture this week.  The days have been so hectic that the idea of a picture doesn't even enter my brain until I'm makeupless and in less than flattering PJ's so forgive me if I don't want to show you that loveliness ;)

Monday, November 24, 2014

Truth in The Tinsel and Fun FREE Supplemental Activities and Ideas

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Every year for the last 3, my family has used the Truth in the Tinsel curriculum during Advent.  I prefer to guide my family’s focus toward the true reason for the season (as cliche as that sounds…) instead of Santa and Snowmen and Reindeer.  We do plenty of all that, too, but I want the kids to grow up seeing past the consumerism and see what we are truly celebrating.  

When I was searching for activities do with my kids initially, I was super overwhelmed with the amount of time and effort I was going to have to put forth while taking care of two toddlers and working full time (plus blogging and other side projects).  I didn’t want to screw it up and not get the point across and I definitely didn’t want them to be bored, but I didn’t think I had the time to devote to preparation, research, gathering materials AND doing the activities with the kids.




Truth in the Tinsel was literally and answer to my prayers.  Everything I needed to successfully relay the Christmas story to my kids with lessons and activities was all laid out step-by-step.  But the next best thing is the flexibility that the lessons offer!  You can follow the day by day Advent calendar with a lesson and craft for each day of December OR follow the abbreviated schedule that hits on all the major points (this is great for busy schedules!), OR leave out the crafts and work through the Printable Ornaments OR have you church Sunday School follow along together with the class curriculum!  There is something for every age and time commitment level.


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I have also been following along with the author on social media and there is tons of collaboration among other bloggers so the ideas are endless.  I wanted to share some with you :)


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Pink Paper Peppermints has created a Free Printable Ornament Album.  This is such an awesome idea, especially for those of us with some older kids or have done it for a few years.  We love to remake the ornaments and use them as our tree decorations, but this gives us one more option.

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I highly recommend Truth in the Tinsel if you are looking for a fun way to celebrate Advent with your children!



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