28 Weeks: A Ball, Some Books, and Probiotics

I have never sat on an exercise ball until today. I’ve been offered one in the delivery room before, but that didn’t seem like the most appropriate time for me to learn balance. So, eighth baby, and I’m trying not to roll off one minute and trying to stay awake the next minute. It is so relaxing and the most comfortable way to sit for your lower back and pelvis. It’s really very relaxing and its fullness down your legs feels soothing. I picked the small one because I’m a small person and knew that the children would have some fun with it. So far there’s lots of rolling on it, practicing piano while sitting on it, playing basketball, you name it. Anyways, you can find them around $10 – not sure why it’s taken me this long : )

We ferment kefir daily and enjoy it with strawberries and bananas with our lunch, we brew kombucha and can go through a gallon of it pretty quickly, I love vegetables cooked and raw, but my gut has never felt as balanced as these last few weeks. I began taking this probiotic, and I feel great! It came highly recommended by a friend who is also pregnant and had done some research. There are many benefits to taking a higher dose of probiotics during pregnancy as it’s vital for our body to be well nourished. It’s also beneficial for the overall immunity of the newborn. Probiotics are a simple and powerful way to protect both mom and baby!

Lastly, I shared with you that I had been reading natural birthing books for both education and inspiration, and maybe links to the books would be helpful. I did not buy any of these books but am borrowing from the library. Of note: most of these authors do not view God as creator nor sustainer, rather their outlook is limited to a reliance on ‘inner wisdom’ or ‘inner strength’ and evolutionary rationale.

Husband Coached Childbirth

Giving Birth with Confidence

Calm Birth

Your Best Birth

A Good Birth

HypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth

with love. Damaris

Second Trimester Update

All photo credits: Maria Wild

So much has changed since I was pregnant with our first! I remember going in for monthly check-ups, and my OB would ask if I had Braxton-Hicks. I had no idea what she was talking about and assured her that I didn’t have any. The weeks were eternal, the wardrobe was all new, the indulgences kept coming, the house cleaning, matching little outfits, and storing of newborn diapers was in full swing. So much has changed since my first pregnancy!

Every week, I read to the children the baby’s development, size, and weight. They’re so very curious, and it’s pure joy for me to see how much they’re bonding with baby even while in-utero. BabyCenter and TheBump have weekly updates that have been interesting to follow. This week’s baby-size-from-the-produce-isle is a head of lettuce : )

This is the last week of our second trimester, and I thought I’d let you in on a few of the latest, exciting things happening around our pregnancy. A new thing since the last couple of weeks is stacks of natural, calm birth books on my nightstand. Also exciting is that, so far, I have had no heartburn or leg cramps. No sneezing accidents or backpain. No constipation or swelling. I sleep great and enjoy feeling baby’s turns and squirms. I am immensely grateful for endurance and stamina while sporting a bump-turned belly (starting to look huge from where I see it) and keeping up with potty training an almost 2 year old, daily outings, and what you already figure is normal logistics of a large family.

I only see my midwife every 6 weeks, and this past Friday was my appointment. I’m measuring on track, my blood pressure is low, and baby’s heartbeat is beautiful. She’s the best and was ok with me declining the glucose test. I’ve declined it before with my previous OB because my blood sugar is always low even after the sugar-shock of the little drink. It’s really nice to have the professional’s trust since this is not our first baby. Since the first midwife appointment at the beginning of our pregnancy, I have been asking her many questions about unmedicated childbirth and alternative birthing experiences. She recommended that I bulk up on some good reading material, hence all of my reading.

Last week, the girls and I went to a baby store and picked out a natural baby wash and a couple zipper pajamas. I will wash everything and show you soon! This is essential for me! I have prepared for each of our babies well in advance, sewing, choosing something new, washing, folding, and maybe doing it again a couple more times : ) I pray for their little person. I bond with them with each and every loving act of preparing.

with love. Damaris

For the Love of Books: June

For a little while now I’ve been trying to maintain a reading regimen. I try to study through two or three books each month. There have been a few reasons why I’ve found this to be a valuable effort – first, it helps me grow my ability to cook healthy and nourishing meals, to be better steward, and most importantly to grow in godliness and Christlikeness. I think it will be fun to use a bit of space on the blog each month to review some of the books I’m reading. Of course, while I don’t necessarily endorse all things written or said by the authors, I have been encouraged by these books and they all come recommended to me. I hope you will share with me your recommendations, too! I hope you will share with me your recommendations, too!

The Family (Home Making)

by J R Miller

This book is a hidden treasure that I’ve owned for a long time but had never read. Each chapter covers the family life and rolls of family members such as the wedded life, the husband’s part, the wife’s part, the children’s part, brothers and sisters. I’ll share a couple of quotes so you can get a taste of the rich language the author uses:

“No other work that God gives any of us to do is so important, so sacred, so far-reaching in its influence, so delicate and easily marred as our home-making. This is the work of all our life that is most divine. The carpenter works in wood, the mason works in stone, the smith works in iron, the artist works on canvas, but the home-maker works on immortal lives. The wood or the stone or the iron or the canvas may be marred, and it will not matter greatly in fifty years; but let a tender human soul be marred in its early training, and ages hence the effects will still be seen.”

“The parent’s life flows into the child’s life. We impress ourselves upon our children less by what we teach them than by what we are.”

The Most Important Place on Earth: What a Christian Home Looks Like and How to Build One

by Robert Wolgemuth

Covering all aspects of a home, this book is full of encouraging and practical ideas on how to have a Christian home that is warm, loving and points others to Christ. The author gives so many great ideas he warns in the introduction you must pick a few at a time to implement and then come back for more. You won’t be able to read it and not be inspired to build a strong Christian home. Especially if one didn’t grow up in a Christian home, this book will give hope and a vast number of ideas. Here are a couple quotes:

“As creative as store-bought toys can be, homemade laughter is more fun than anything else.”

“No screaming or yelling. No bullying or foolish threats, just simple, thorough explanation of the rules and your expectation that children follow them.”

“Doing discipline leads to the sheer pleasure of having discipline.”

with love. Damaris

Happy Independence Day!

I trust your celebrations are loud, fun-filled with a dose of relaxing. Maybe the lake? A bbq? We’re all loading in the van as I write this to join in the local 4th of July Parade festivities.

I read this recently and thought it was an interesting fact to share:

“John Adams attended the Second Continental Congress, which began meeting in Philadelphia on July 1, 1776. The next day, the delegates voted in favor of America’s independence.

On July 3, Adams wrote to his beloved wife, Abigail: ‘The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America.” He added: “I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.’

He was off by two days.

On July 4, the delegates in Philadelphia adopted Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence. History would celebrate their decision as the birthday of the new nation, even though they only formalized what they actually decided two days earlier.

John Adams did not understand the future significance of this day in 1776. But he knew how to face an uncertain future with certain faith: ‘I must submit all my Hopes and Fears, to an overruling Providence, in which, unfashionable as the Faith may be, I firmly believe.'”

Let’s join him.

Excerpt from Denisonforum.org. You can find the post here.

with love, Damaris

How to Survive the First Trimester

I’m enjoying the second trimester especially since I don’t even have episodes of heartburn. Must be this baby is going to be bald : ). But I had been thinking of several things that I still wanted to add concerning the first trimester and specifically how to survive it.

My ‘morning’ sickness never went away during the day, and it worsened in the evenings. It started just before 6 weeks and got worse from 8 weeks to 11 weeks. It slowly calmed down during the daytme but was still bad at night until 14 weeks. Mine wasn’t just nausea but stomach pain. Although I was more sick than I had been with any other pregnancy, it certainly was not hyperemesis gravidarum. Everybody is so different and each pregnancy can be so different, but I can share my experience with you and maybe it can be of some use. What helped me to cope with nausea?

  • quart jars full of water with lemon (very heavy on the lemon juice)

  • vitamin D drops (long Michigan winters leave one pretty depleted)

  • coconut water (I added juice or steeped my herbal tea in it)

  • eating small amounts of food at a time

  • closing my eyes

  • caffeine in the afternoon

  • pressing a pillow tightly against my stomach

What did the first trimester look like?

  • lots of joy

  • everything smells bad

  • a pooch

  • can’t sleep because I’m so hungry

  • tired

  • excitement

  • telling friendly customers at Costco

  • so tired

Cravings during the first trimester?

  • corn flakes

  • bagels

  • oatmeal

  • Korean

Aversions during the first trimester?

  • fried food

  • tea tree oil

  • all candles

I hope this is helpful for you if either you or someone you know is entering this difficult stage. Even if they’re on the other side of feeling terrible, maybe this can give you something to talk about : )

with love, Damaris

For the Love of Books: May

For a little while now I’ve been trying to maintain a reading regimen. I try to study through two or three books each month. There have been a few reasons why I’ve found this to be a valuable effort – first, it helps me grow my ability to cook healthy and nourishing meals, to be better steward, and most importantly to grow in godliness and Christlikeness. I think it will be fun to use a bit of space on the blog each month to review some of the books I’m reading. Of course, while I don’t necessarily endorse all things written or said by the authors, I have been encouraged by these books and they all come recommended to me. I hope you will share with me your recommendations, too! I hope you will share with me your recommendations, too!

Letters on Christian Education

Unlike what you might deduce from the title, this great read is a 19th century parenting book, not a home education book. It is a compilation of letters written from an experienced mother to a younger mother seeking to train her children for the glory of God. This little lost treasure is a wonder of instruction and encouragement for any parent! Here’s a quote from the first letter addressing the eternal significance of child training:“If you were aware of the high trust deposited in you when you received into your arms your firstborn infant, yet trembling with fear for the future, to say, ‘O that this child might live before Thee.'”

Let Me be a Woman

I have read many Elizabeth Elliot books over the years, and I finally got my hands on this gem. This book is a collection of letters from the author to her daughter who is about to get married. The short letters are brimming with wisdom. Every woman will find this book to be truly inspiring and eye opening concerning some of the world’s lies we might believe. It was difficult to pick a single quote that would give an accurate sample of the book because Elizabeth Elliot covers many significant womanly interests, so here are a few:

The fact that I am a woman does not make me a different kind of Christian, but the fact that I am a Christian does make me a different kind of woman.”

“I believe a woman, in order to be a good wife, must be (among other things) both sensual and maternal.”

“The way you keep your house, the way you organize your time, the care you take in your personal appearance, the things you spend your money on, all speak loudly about what you believe. The beauty of thy peace shines forth in an ordered life. A disordered life speaks loudly of disorder in the soul.”

with love. Damaris

20 Weeks and Ultrasound

I had my midwife appointment this morning, and it was so relaxing I just had to share : )

I had fresh banana muffins so Nathan would give the children breakfast and start the day. Since I’d left with a few minutes to spare, I sat in a silent car in the parking lot, did my make-up, called my mom (it’s her birthday today!), and had enough time for one more visit to the bathroom – huh.

The appointment went great. Hearing the baby’s heartbeat is as exciting as it was 14 years ago when I heard it coming from my belly for the first time. I so wish I could hear it again tomorrow, and the next day, and when I’m lying in bed praying for the baby! My midwife reviewed the ultrasound, and everything is beautiful. God’s mercies overwhelm me.

I had seen signs for a Starbucks in the building, so today when the appointment was over, I went on a hunt for it. A Dulce de Leche Skinny Cappuccino never tasted so sweet. Ah, now I’m home and about to prepare lunch, but I just had to share with you my splendid morning and the latest update on week 20 and our ultrasound.

Sleep is great these days, although I can’t break the habit of having a cup of tea at bedtime. I’m sure you know that’s an unavoidable 3 o’clock trip to the bathroom. I’m so grateful to fall right back to sleep, though.

According to Nathan, I am craving hot sauce and vinegar. Nothing too epicurean, but certainly goes great on everything. I have them both in bulk-size in the pantry – ha! I’ve noticed that I’m hungry for real food as in hot meals not really sandwiches, or cereal, or crackers. Yesterday I had a bowl of lentils for breakfast! No more leftovers in this house! I’m very happy to not have any sweet cravings…yet. Other than today’s grande cappuccino.

You don’t know how incredible grateful I am to have you here sharing this journey. I can’t believe it’s Baby Number 8! It seems natural and crazy all at the same time : )

with love, Damaris

Why is it so Hard to Ask

Photo Credit: Maria Wild

During this morning’s devotions we did something we’d never done before.

At the breakfast table, we read a Proverb and prayed. By one of the girls’ suggestions, we went around the table and each prayed for the person next to us. Prayers were spoken for the biggest to think before he speaks, for the big girl to be gentle to a brother, for the middle boy to remember what he’s told, for the middle girl to be thorough in all of her schoolwork, for a little girl to be kind to her sister, and for the littlest to not be contrary and cross. The middle girl was next to me, and she prayed that I wouldn’t do all the work, and be healthy, and to be very happy. When it was my turn to pray, I heard my words sound formal, respectful/polite/well-mannered…. I wasn’t tenderly asking with innocence and vulnerability like the small prayers said before me.

Photo Credit: Maria Wild

Why is it so hard to ask?

If He loves to give, why isn’t it easier? All day, my children ask for snacks, help in the bathroom, cups to be filled, socks and shoes put on, and help with long words. Sometimes I hear “Mom, Mom, Mom” so many times, surely there is not three seconds between their calls! One thing I know through their asking is that they need me. The kids ask unafraid and relentless, and their asking is a bold statement of helplessness. The asking requires surrender, and surrender springs from humility. I know I lack the humility to ask God the way the children ask for daily things of me. Because in asking, I would be completely yielding to an Almighty God – I would acknowledge my incompetence and inability.

The irony of it is that when I try to ask, I am afraid I don’t know how to do it the right way (James 4:2,3). If we don’t receive because we don’t ask as we ought, then I just don’t ask! I know my prayers are so imperfect and awkward! But when I pray in Jesus’ name (John 14:13), it’s not my stuttered words He hears but the delightful prayers of Jesus. If I trust His Name is enough, than my struggling, messy prayers are all God wants!

If you think of it, this is why Jesus told us that we needed to be like children (Matthew 18:3 ). My kids ask in helplessness, and they just ask – not afraid to sound broken or simple. Children ask because they are dependent. How I want that my heart is humble enough to ask! Just ask!

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

Matthew 7:7-11

with love. Damaris

Managing Mom Expectations

Expectations are not easily silenced, especially when they come from those closest to us (and whom we love most) or from ourselves.

Just the other week, I woke up with a tight grip on the day. Really, it started the night before. The surety of my control over all the phone calls I would make, the blog post I would write, the chores, piano lessons, library returns, etc. I had high goals for the day, and then children bickered instead of getting dressed, the oatmeal boiled over onto the stove, and I forgot to confirm an appointment, and an email came that it got cancelled. To top it off, over the weekend we had run vinegar through the coffee pot to clean it. My elated anticipation turned to horror when my cream curdled to the top of my coffee cup because of the vinegar that hadn’t been flushed enough from the machine. I was utterly frustrated because I had lost all control no matter how hard I tried. In my world, this is not an isolated occurrence – my expectations leave me feeling like a failure all too often. How I want to surrender my moments to God!

Do you ever wonder what went so wrong from your well-laid plans?

At the end of the day, we feel unhappy about how our day went – not feeling as accomplished as other days, or may even feel guilt. I have watched for the things that make me feel satisfied at the end of the day and not disappointed about how the day went. I absolutely love a clean house, and baking, and hosting Bible study, but at the end of some of those long days, I would feel down – not fulfilled in the events of the day. All are good activities, but sometimes may be unrealistic expectations. Spending a little time in prayer, reading to the children, asking them to work with me in the kitchen, or sitting at their side to learn a new school lesson are the top activities that always leave me lying in bed with a full heart from a full day. I am not advocating for not getting anything done here! There are days for accomplishing a lot, and we try to tackle those together. We say ‘yes’ to tub scrubbing and window wiping, and ‘no’ to tea time with an audio book. It is what we were aiming for on that day. Changing our expectation makes all the difference.

We need humility to accept our limitations and admit when we are wrong about unrealistic expectations. Expectations can be unrealistic not because they cannot be accomplished, but because they are not for us at this time. Unrealistic expectations can creep into all areas of our life and can often be poisonous. They quickly drive us to stress and self-pity. Our mind wanders, and our hearts flutter with fear at our inability and failure to meet the unrealistic expectations.

Are you feeling unfulfilled when your marriage supposedly isn’t like someone’s else’s? Are you letting a messy house or running behind schedule irritate you? Do your kids’ childish mistakes and accidents annoy you? Do you feel like a failure when you see disobedience in the children, again? These all have the potential to be unrealistic expectations that leave us with ragged emotions that overtake our hearts – hearts that God wants to shield and strengthen (Psalm 28:7).

Watching over our thoughts and wants will prevent unrealistic expectations from creeping in. I have prayed for both of us, that we make every thought captive in obedience to God and be sober-minded (1 Peter 5:8 and 2 Corinthians 10:5) so we can be filled with peace as we manage mom expectations.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:7

with love, Damaris

My Summer Favorties

Spring is quickly blossoming into summer and my senses are intoxicated. The warmed grass, the lilacs, and the apple blossoms visit me through open windows. Nathan just told me that there’s one peony bud too! I can’t get enough, really. Whatever schoolwork didn’t get completed in the morning, we take it outside to the picnic table. One of my most favorite sounds of summer is the frogs and toads at night. We sleep with the windows open, and it’s so soothing to hear.

Transitioning into summer also means new favorites! I have compiled what I’ve been using lately, and what I love the most.

I don’t like to wear foundation, so I let my freckles take over. I’ve never minded them, and using this light primer with a little tint from Pixi. It’s perfect! It feels smooth and adds radiance. I use it after my moisturizer whether I’m doing make up or not.

Summertime is a great opportunity to give hair a break, and I don’t blow dry it. This product is the best for natural, low-maintenance tussles. It’s called Not Your Mother’s – Beach Babe. It adds just a little body and wave plus smells like a day at the beach! I use it while my hair is damp and scrunch it with my hands. I’ll apply it again on the second day (without another wash). I have used this product for three summers now and still love it.

I usually wear Pixi’s clear lip gloss, but I ran out, and felt adventurous : ) It’s still a very natural shade yet adding a touch of color to my face. It’s a lip plumper without the tingling sensation. This lip gloss is not thick nor sticky but feels cooling and hydrating.

I find that because we spend more time outside and in the wind, my hair may need a little TLC. I started to use this serum irregularly in the winter, but now I apply it twice a week only to the ends just before bed (I keep it in my nightstand). It leaves no residue, and my hair feels and looks healthier in the morning.

I love picking a new scented candle for the new season! This one is flowery but not perfumy. I picked it up at World Market a few weeks ago, and everybody enjoys the fresh scent. I always light a candle when I’ve cleaned up the kitchen! How do you reward yourself?

This Jergens Natural Glow self tanner is the prettiest, most natural color I’ve found. Tanning products usually have a unfavorable smell and leave you either streaked or orange-toned, but this mousse goes on easily giving you an immediate tan! I tried using a mitt to apply the self-tanner, but it didn’t work well for me. Remember to scrub your palms immediately, though!

Lastly, I’m always cold. Unless it’s hot. Then I’m really hot. My husband says I have 1 degree of comfort, and he’s totally right. Hence this cardigan from Old Navy. I wear it everyday because the mornings are cold, the grocery store is cold, the library is cold…It’s the perfect weight and color for summertime.

What are you are your summer favorites? I love to hear your recommendations and ideas!

with love. Damaris