Pregnancy To-Do List

I am very organized, so you can expect when I got pregnant, I would be planning and organizing like crazy! I spent way to much time on Pinterest looking for good ideas.

Here are some things I did and some items I bought while pregnant that have really helped me postpartum:

Things I Did

Made Freezer Meals

I am so thankful I made freezer meals! One Friday, near the end of my pregnancy, I spent the entire day shopping for and cooking meals. If I did it again, I would shop one day and cook the next. First, I researched recipes of good vegetarian freezer meals. I copied and pasted each recipe onto a Word Document, then made a grocery list based off the recipes. After I bought everything, I printed the recipes and highlighted different food prep categories: orange was cheese that needed to be grated, green was vegetable prep, and pink was other prep like pre-cooking rice or pre-making dough. It took roughly 10 hours to make about 10 meals. Some of the meals made HUGE portions, like 8-12 servings. That way, we would have leftovers for lunches. I made a menu plan each week so I would know ahead of time what meal to set in the fridge to thaw. It sometimes took two full days for a meal to thaw. Meals included: Baked Ziti, Cheesy Brocolli Rice Casserole, Veggie Chili, Empanadas, Veggie Quesadillas, Baked Eggplant Parmesan, Kale and Quinoa Minestrone, Calzones, Loaded Vegetable Soup, and Lasagna Primavera. Everything was pre-cooked except the chili. For the chili, I just cut up all the veggies, rinsed the beans, and dumped all the raw ingredients into a ziploc bag and froze it. Then two days before we wanted to eat it, I put it in the fridge to thaw. The morning we wanted to eat it, we put it in the crock pot to cook for 8 hours on low. It was done by dinnertime, and tasted amazing! If I do freezer meals again, I’ll definitely include more crock pot meals. They are a lot easier to prep, and the cooking is completely hands-free! Some of the meals came from this link: I think we have enough meals for at least a month, considering some of my church friends are also bringing us meals.

Made and Bought Snacks

I knew breastfeeding would make me extra hungry, so I did some snack prep ahead of time. I made breakfast granola cups, muffins, and trail mix. Trail Mix is so much cheaper to make than to buy! I put the muffins in the freezer and only pulled out a few at a time. I also bought Lara Bars and Uber Bars.The links are below for the muffins and granola cups:

Made Padsicles

If you haven’t heard of Padsicles, you’re missing out! Here is a link to how to make them:

Stocked up on diapers (disposables and cloth)

I plan on using a combination of disposable diapers and cloth. Right now, we’re using sposies because my boy is tiny and I don’t want to buy newborn size cloth diapers (I’d only use them for a short time). I have several small packs of newborn size sposies, a month’s worth of size one sposies, and then a couple packs each of size twos and threes sposies. I’m hoping once Nicholas gets into size one diapers, I can use a combination of sposies and cloth (sposies for traveling mainly). As far as cloth right now, I have 12 covers, 4 pocket diapers, 4 inserts, 5 bamboo inserts for extra absorbency, and 24 small pre-folds. I think this is a good starter stash. I bought it a little bit at a time throughout my pregnancy when I saw a good deal. I bought most of my stash online, on websites such at diaper safari and fuzzibunz. I even got some one-size covers on Amazon for $4 each! I hope they’re good quality!

Took stool softener 

So I started taking stool softener at probably 38 weeks. I have heard that using the restroom post-baby can be super painful if you’re not prepared. Turns out taking stool softener really paid off! I have kept it up even after the baby was born. It’s also important to drink plenty of water and eat a lot of fiber to keep things moving along.

Made nursing camis 

Nursing camis are great but usually only come in sizes like small, medium, and large. Since I have a “weird” bra size, I had to buy some nursing bras that actually came in cup sizes. Therefore, it was more cost effective to make my own nursing camis that I could attach to my nursing bras. I bought a three-pack of cheap camis at WalMart, then turned them into nursing camis. See the tutorial below!

Made Flannel Cloth Wipes

Ok, I didn’t make these, my mother did. But I would have made them myself if I had a sewing machine. You just buy a yard or two of flannel, cut it into 8 inch squares, and sew around the edges. Right now, we’re using disposable diapers and disposable wipes, but I’ve already started using the cloth wipes as a pee-pee catcher with my boy who likes to pee mid-change.

Asked for HELP! 

I wasn’t too shy in asking for help. We were lucky enough to have my parents help out for the first 5 days we were home with the baby. Then Thomas’s mom came and helped for three more days after that. We were very grateful to receive help with chores around the house, running errands, playing with the dog, holding the baby, etc.

Essential Items for Me

Dermoplast – Make sure it’s the blue bottle! You can get it on Amazon or Walgreens. It really helps with the pain “down there”

Perenial Irrigation Bottle – It’s like $3 on Amazon. Trust me, this will help!

Dry Shampoo – I’ve only used this once, but when I’m home alone with the baby, I might use it more.

Used items for the nursery – We saved so much $$$ by buying used. We got a used crib for $150, a used dresser for $50 that doubles as a changing table, and a used rocking chair for $20. We were also lucky enough to receive free hand-me-downs including a Pack N Play, high chair, a side table a baby bath tub, convertible car seat, and virtually ALL of my boy’s clothing. Don’t turn down free things! Be grateful! We also rearranged things and used some things we already had around the house: hamper, bookshelf, lamp.

Hot/cold packs – These will be essential when you’re starting to breastfeed and your milk comes in. I recommend these:

Lanolin – I was able to purchase 2 new tubes of Medela brand Lanolin from a lady for only $3 each (normally like $9 each)! I also bought some pure lanolin from I haven’t used the pure lanolin yet. It’s a lot thicker and stickier than the Medela brand, so I’m saving it for when I’m not as sensitive. This stuff is amazing though! I haven’t needed to use any other kind of nipple cream.

Nursing Bras – I got two nursing bras and one nursing cami at Target. They aren’t my favorite, though. Just 4 days before my due date, I went to Motherhood Maternity and took advantage of their “buy three bras, get one free” sale. The ladies there were so helpful! I was able to get two stretchy bras, and two with underwire, for an average of $20 each! For me and my “weird” size, that’s a good deal!

Placenta Pills – I got my placenta encapsulated. I really think this has helped balance out my hormones. I paid a lady $75 to do this, but you could do it yourself if you’re brave!

Nursing Caddy – I love this nursing caddy! I keep all my nursing supplies in it and can carry it easily to whatever room I’m camped out in. I usually have breast pads, snacks, burp cloths, lanolin, a nursing cover, the snot sucker, and a receiving blanket in this caddy. The only thing that doesn’t fit is the Boppy. If I used a water bottle, I could probably fit it in here, but instead, I have a water glass and a giant mug that I refill it with. I carry those separately.

Comfy pajamas – I have both pajama pants and shorts. Sometimes I get hot while nursing, so it’s good to have options of different layers.

Shirts with buttons – I have a couple shirts that button down about halfway. I think they’d be good for nursing in public, but at home, I usually just wear my nursing bra/cami combo and a t-shirt over it if I get chilly.

Essential Items for the Baby

Newborn clothes – Our boy was 7 pounds and 7 ounces when he was born. Most of the clothing we have right now is way too big on him! He fits into only about 5 short sleeve onesies and 3 sleepers. Everything else, he is swimming in! I wish I would have bought a few more sleepers for him in a smaller size.

Muslin swaddle blankets – Aden and Anais swaddle blankets are amazing. Nicholas loves to be swaddled in them. They can also be used as a lightweight nursing cover, a sunshade over the stroller, a blanket for tummy time, etc. They’re nice and big, so swaddling is easier. They’re breathable too, so my boy stays cool.

Gas drops – Nicholas had bad gas a few days after birth. We had to send my parents out for gas drops, because all we had was gripe water (which is for babies 2 weeks and up).

Snot Sucker – So there are a lot of snot-sucking products out there. I have heard that the bulb syringe that the hospital gives you can be a breeding ground for mold because it traps in moisture. A lot of people say the Nosefrida is the best, but you have to buy filters for it. Here’s my choice:

The Baby Comfy Nose Nasal Aspirator just uses a regular tissue as the filter – a much cheaper option than buying filters for the Nosefrida! I may even buy a second one for the diaper bag!

Gerber Prefolds – These things are great as burp cloths! I wouldn’t actually use them as diapers, though.

Receiving Blankets – You can use these for many purposes: burp cloth, blanket to lay baby on,

Boppy – Great for nursing and later for propping up the baby. I have a second cover on mine so if he spits up, I can just remove the top layer.

Crib Mattress – We were gifted the Naturepedic Organic Crib Mattress by my parents. It’s a little on the expensive side, but it’s a healthier choice than the plastic mattresses and very durable. My brother bought one for his first baby, and it’s still in new condition on the third baby! We also got the Naturepedic Crib Mattress cover. I layered it with crib sheets so I can pull off the top two layers if there’s an accident in the middle of the night.

Pack N Play – Like I said earlier, we were given a used Pack N Play for free. We use it as the “bassinet” next to our bed. I thought this was more cost effective than purchasing a bassinet. It has a changing pad attachment which works well for nighttime changes

Diaper Organizer – I hooked this to the side of the Pack N Play using two shower hooks. It keeps his diapers, wipes, sleepers, onesies, swaddle blankets, boogie wipes, and hand sanitizer all neatly organized. The only thing I don’t like about it is that it’s saggy compared to the picture.

Waterproof Changing Pad Liners – We use these like crazy! I sent Thomas back to Target to get more a few days after the baby was born. I use these on both his changing pads. I even cut one in half and put half in the car seat and half in his bouncer. You just have to cut a slit for the strap to go through.

Baby Bath Sponge – This works well inside the baby tub. It holds in the warm water and keeps the baby comfy.

Olive Oil in a small spray bottle – We brought this to the birth center and used it on his tush right after he was born. The meconium poop slid right off when we changed his diaper. We used this for the next few days with each diaper change.

Coconut Oil – I use this for diaper rash. He had one small rash and the coconut oil cleared it right up!

Other Essentials

Changing Pad and Cover (or two)

Diaper Bag (or two) – I have one big one and one backpack style one

Stroller or Stroller Frame – I have the frame that you can snap the car seat into. Later during garage sale season, I’ll buy an actual stroller

Car Seat – We have an infant seat AND a convertible, but right now, we’re just using the convertible

Carrier or Wrap – We have a Moby that was given to us. Nicholas loves being worn!

Baby washcloths and hooded towels

Baby bath soap – California Baby, Shea Moisture, Burt’s Bees, or even Baby Mild Castile Soap (you can put it in an empty foaming soap dispenser along with some water and it will foam up nicely).

Diaper sprayer, Large trash can, Pail liners, Travel Wet Bags – These are essentials if you’re cloth diapering

Hopefully this list has helped someone! I am glad I was as prepared as possible for my baby’s arrival. Of course, one can never truly be prepared. There are things you learn along the way!

My Natural Birth Story

First of all, let me say that my purpose in recording my birth story is two-fold: one is to save the memories for myself and the other is to encourage other moms with a positive birth story (especially those of you considering natural birth).

It all started in July, when my husband, Thomas, and I found found out we were pregnant. We were both so excited! Our due date was March 11. The pregnancy itself was pretty normal. It started with a month or so of morning sickness. The second trimester was pretty uneventful, and the third trimester was pretty uncomfortable.

By the beginning of February, I was not feeling well at all and was tired of being pregnant. On February 25th, I began having frequent, time-able contractions, and I thought it was real labor. I called in sick for work, and Thomas stayed home with me. After about 14 hours of regular contractions, everything stopped. It was so disappointing! I decided after that to not return to work because the baby could arrive any day (or so I assumed). What I had experienced (prodromal labor) is said to make your real labor progress quickly when it does happen, and I didn’t want to be at work and suddenly begin active labor or something. I was also extremely uncomfortable at this point. My feet were very swollen, and it hurt to walk. I wasn’t getting much sleep at night either. I needed my rest so I’d be ready for our little Nicholas to arrive.

Thomas stayed home with me for three days but then returned to work the following week. There was no point in him missing so much work before the baby arrived. I would need his help after the birth. I had a list of ladies who were willing to take me to the Birth Center in Yoder if Thomas wasn’t able to get back to me in time. (He works an hour away).

Well finally the big day arrived: March 11. I had already been home from work for 2 weeks now, having random contractions, and I was bored out of my mind and ready to meet our little boy. But God clearly had other plans and was teaching us all to be patient. On March 12, we had our 40-week appointment with my midwife. This was the first time she “checked” me. I was not dilated at all and only 30% effaced. She said she doubted we’d have a baby this week. The plan was to come in the following Tuesday, March 17th. She would check me again and if I was at least 1 cm dilated, she could do a natural induction, send me home to labor, and have me come back when I was in active labor. If I wasn’t dilated, I was scheduled to have a sonogram on Wednesday, March 18th to look at the embryonic fluid levels and make sure the placenta wasn’t deteriorating. If it was, they’d do some kind of injection to induce (not pitocin, though) and then send me to the birth center. If everything on the sonogram was fine, they’d send me home, still pregnant. It was sad to think I’d still be pregnant for a week or more. I really wanted to meet this baby and hold him in my arms!

So I’m convinced that Nicholas takes after his mommy in the way of procrastinating because he waited until the last possible minute to begin his arrival. On Monday, March 16th, at 9:30 p.m., my water broke. What a weird feeling! I was laying on the couch watching TV and I felt a gentle pop. Then a minute or so later I felt a little gush like I had peed myself. I went to the bathroom and sure enough, it was my water breaking! This was it, I thought! The rest of the night, I tried what I could to get labor to progress: different positions on the yoga ball, walking around, etc. I also tried to eat some snacks to keep my energy up.

I called my midwife around 11:00 p.m., and she told me to try to get some rest. So we tried to go to bed but I couldn’t sleep. At about 1:00 a.m., the random contractions I’d been having for weeks became time-able. We didn’t get any sleep after that. The contractions got stronger as daylight approached.

At 7:00 a.m. on March 17th, my midwife called to check on me. Thomas told her that my contractions were about 4 minutes apart. Even though we already had an appointment for 9:45 that morning, she said to come in at 9:00 a.m. I had Thomas gather everything we still needed to pack. We had a birth center bag for Nicholas and I, a bag for Thomas, and then a separate “hospital emergency bag.” We also brought our yoga ball and who knows what else. I think we were over-prepared! But my husband is a Boy Scout, so what do you expect?🙂

I had four contractions while in the car. It was a LONG 20-minute drive! When we arrived at the Birth Center at 9:00 a.m., I was 100% effaced and 4 cm dilated! I was so excited, and my midwife was impressed by my progress! This meant I got to stay and labor at the Birth Center!

Active labor was a little frustrating. I really wanted to get into the jet tub, but I had to be 6 cm before I could get in. Because my water had already broken, there was an increased risk of infection with cervical checks. Therefore, she didn’t check me very often. I had some very strong contractions while walking around in the room. I leaned against the windowsill for some of them, or against my yoga ball on the bed, or against Thomas. Finally, around noon, I was cleared to get in the tub. My midwife could tell I was progressing without even checking me, so gave me permission.

The jet tub was amazing during this part of my labor. It was really like nature’s epidural! I was in the tub for about two hours. It relaxed me and yet also made my contractions stronger and closer together. The worst part was when my midwife had to drain some of the water in order to refill it with hot water. Thomas was constantly by my side, pushing on my back to provide counter pressure. I kept requesting the puke bucket, but I never actually threw up. I asked for sips of water often, and my midwife gave me apple juice. Other than that, I wasn’t interested in eating anything.

At around 2:00, I got out of the tub, and my midwife checked me. I was around 6 or 7 cm dilated at this point. For the next few hours, I was having a LOT of very intense contractions. This part was not fun at all. At around 3:00 p.m., my midwife hooked me up to an IV antibiotic because it had been 18 hours since my water had broken. Thankfully, I could still walk around because the IV was portable, and once it was finished, she unhooked me from it.

At 4:00, she checked me again and determined the baby was sunny side up, meaning his face was facing up instead of facing my rear like he’s supposed to. I was in a lot of pain at this point so I asked to go back into the tub. The midwife said that might help turn him, so back in I went. This time in the tub was not as fun. I was so close to transition, and the contractions were so intense that the water did little for my pain. Thomas continued pressing on my back for counter pressure. I growled and groaned through my contractions. At times, I felt like I needed to push.

At around 5:00, I got out of the tub. My midwife had me try different things to turn the baby. I got on my knees on the bed with me arms on the yoga ball and swayed back and forth. (I had done this many times in my third trimester, hoping I could keep the baby in the right position). She also had me to lunges on a stool during my contractions.

At 6:00 p.m., my midwife checked me and told me I was fully dilated and could start pushing! I was so excited but also in kind of a fog. Thomas got on the bed with me and held my hand. I pushed in a semi reclined position on my left side. At around 7:00 p.m., a nurse came into the room. She was there to help me and the baby post-partum. I had very intense contractions now but pushing was kind of awkward at first. They gave Thomas and I a circular rag to play “tug-of-war” to help me get some resistance to help with pushing. My midwife told me to keep my chin forward and curve my body into a C shape with each push. With each contraction, I could feel more and more of his head coming out. Then at the end of each contraction, it would go back in. Thankfully, I knew this was normal and a way to stretch things gently, or I would have been very frustrated. I vaguely remember the “Ring of Fire,” and it was very intense. But at this point, I knew I was so close to meeting my baby, that it was a welcomed event. Thomas, my midwife, and the nurse were so very encouraging with each push, telling me what a good job I was doing. I both did and didn’t want to know how close we were to having his head out. But finally, my midwife said, “One more push and his head will be out!” And sure enough, it was! And he had turned so he wasn’t sunny-side-up anymore!

After his head was out, I had one more contraction and the rest of his body came out at 8:11 p.m. That was the coolest and weirdest feeling, like giving birth to a jellyfish! They put him directly on my chest, and all the 19 hours of natural labor seemed instantly worth it! I cried and ooohed and ahhed over how beautiful and perfect he was. Thomas cried, too! When I said, “Oh, my sweet little boy!” my midwife checked to make sure he was, indeed, a boy. And he was! I didn’t even notice when he apparently pooped all over me. So much for daddy getting to change his first diaper :-P Within minutes the cord stopped pulsing, and they clamped it so Thomas could cut it.

I delivered the placenta a few minutes later and they put it in our cooler for me. Yes, I had my placenta encapsulated. Don’t judge until you’ve researched it! Nicholas got all cleaned off, and Thomas held him while my nurse and midwife got me cleaned up and checked me. Then the nurse and midwife weighed Nicholas, did the apgar test, tested his reflexes, etc. They said he was a little cold, so they had him do skin to skin with me. Then I breastfed him from a laying down position, which went surprisingly well. While I was feeding Nicholas, Thomas sent out texts to our contact list of friends and family announcing his arrival.

Nicholas and I took a bath together in the tub. It was a sweet bonding time, although he was a little fussy. Then we got dressed and ready to go. Before we left, the nurse gave us a lot of instructions and paperwork AND a birthday cake to celebrate Nicholas’s birthday🙂 We were given the choice to leave around midnight to spend the night in our own beds or stay and sleep until around 5:00 a.m. and then leave. We chose to go home sooner rather than later. At around 12:30 a.m., we were released! The nurse helped me walk to the car and Thomas carried Nicholas in his car seat. We rode home and spent the night in our own beds. Nicholas slept for 4 hours straight, I fed him, and then he slept another 3 hours. I’m so grateful we got to go home only about 4 hours after Nicholas was born!

The night of the 18th, my midwife called to check on us. We had been taking Nicholas’s temperature and breathing respiration rate every 6 hours and my temperature and pulse also every 6 hours. I reported the numbers to her, and she said she’d be at our house the next day to do a check-up.

On the morning of March 19th, my midwife came to our house to check on me and Nicholas. She took a blood sample from him, took off his clamp from his cord stump, and checked his vitals. She asked me how I was doing and let me know I could call with any questions or concerns.

Overall, I’m very happy with my choice to have a natural birth at a birth center. To me, it was like my “marathon moment.” It was the hardest thing I’ve experienced physically, but yet it was pain with a purpose. When in any other point in life will I have pain that has a positive result? I chose not to have an epidural because I wanted to feel when to push. I think this is the main reason I only had a 1 degree tear which required no stitches! This child had a 14 inch head circumference, might I add! I also choice to go drug free for the baby’s sake. A lot of times, the drugs the mother receives can cause the baby distress which can lead to more complications and even emergency c-sections.

Natural labor was worth it for me! It is now 9 days since my son was born, and I feel almost 100% recovered! I don’t know if that’s because I had a natural birth, am taking placenta pills, etc., but I think all those things are contributing factors. I hope this story has been an encouragement to others. I don’t judge anyone on their choice of how to birth, but this choice was right for me!

Nicholas right after being born!

Nicholas right after being born!


Nicholas’s first picture!

Nicholas in his going home outfit

Nicholas in his going home outfit

Baby Plans and Matthew 7:1 – 3

It’s been a very long time since I posted on this blog. Maybe the reason is that I’ve been busy. Maybe I haven’t thought of anything brilliant enough to post. Or perhaps, I completely forgot I had a blog – yep, that’s it! Now that we’re having a baby, a lot of questions and concerns pop into my head. It’s pretty overwhelming when I sit down and think about all of the details! We’re learning to try to surround ourselves with positive people who are supportive of us in this journey.

Ever since my husband and I became vegetarians over three years ago, we’ve come across our share of skeptics. Most people seem to think it’s “extreme.” I was never really bothered by people’s opinions. After cutting out meat, we also started cutting out processed food and choosing products without harsh chemicals for cleaning our house and for toiletries.

Once we started thinking about starting a family, I happened to watch the documentary “The Business of Being Born.” Since we had shifted to a more “natural” lifestyle, it made sense to pursue a natural birth as well (when the time came). After moving to Hutchinson and finding that a Birth Center was close by, I was so excited!

I began visiting the Birth Center for women’s check-ups (another service they offer). It was a much more welcoming environment than any doctor’s office I’ve been to. Getting a tour of the birthing rooms made me tear up a little! I knew this was the place where I wanted to have my babies.

Last summer, we decided we were ready to start a family, and by the 4th of July, we found out we were pregnant! Right now, I’m 17 weeks along, and we get to see if the baby is a boy or girl in just 3 weeks!

Sharing the news was bittersweet. 99% of the people we shared our baby news with were extremely excited for us and supportive of our choices. One person, however, mocked us when we announced we were going to have the baby at a birth center. He said “Why don’t you just go out in the field with the Indians and wait for the baby to FALL OUT?!” It’s sad that this one rude opinion upset me so much. Maybe it’s because it came from the baby’s own grandfather. Maybe it’s because I worry to much about other people’s opinions. I could say I’m over it now, but it still stings a little.

Remember what I said about surrounding ourselves with positive support? I’m hoping to do that through this blog (as well as family and friends, of course). So, let’s stop judging each other for our choices. I have nothing against a mom who wants to have a baby at a hospital. I do not judge a woman who wants to have their baby at home. Epidural or no epidural, pitocin or not, who am I to judge? We make our own choices on what we think is best. And despite our best laid plans, it may NOT go the way we planned either.

The end result will be a baby, no matter what. And when the baby is here, will there continue to be judgments? Cloth diapers or disposable? Breastfeeding or bottle-feeding? Co-sleeping, Bed sharing, or baby in his/her own room? We’re making these decisions now, and in the back of my head, I wonder who will verbally or silently judge me? I love and care about my baby just as much as anyone else. Shouldn’t that be the end of the discussion?

More updates will come soon, but until then, say something nice to a mom! They deserve it! And look up Matthew 7:1 – 3

– Amanda

Good News!

As many of you may know, Thomas and I have had a tough year. He got offered a teaching job at the end of July last year, so we moved to Manhattan. His job was at the middle school in Junction City (Geary County School District). By the time we moved in August, it was too late for me to find a teaching job in the Geary County District, so I worked as a paraprofessional at a school on Fort Riley. Things were sounding promising this spring that I would find a job at one of the Geary County elementary schools for the fall. But the day before spring break, Thomas was given a letter of non-renewal. They asked him not to return next year, and they didn’t have to tell him why.
Thomas took this very well. He said he moped for about 5 minutes, and then he got on the Kansas Teaching jobs website, and started looking for a job. Over the past few months, we have both been looking, and getting discouraged. On May 10th, Thomas (after applying to about 15 districts and having two interviews) applied to the Hutchinson School District. That night we prayed. And I admit, before this time, we had not been praying too often about our job situation. On Sunday, May 13th, at 8:00 p.m. Thomas got a call from the Hutchinson Middle School principal. We found this strange that he would call so late on a Sunday, Mother’s Day no less. But I had a good feeling, so that night, I applied to the Hutchinson School District as well. Thomas hadn’t heard his phone, but he called back the next day and the principal was willing to allow Thomas to come in and interview the following Saturday. This way, Thomas wouldn’t miss any class time of his last week at his current school.
I got a call the very next day from an elementary school in Hutchinson, and they asked me to come in on Friday for an interview. And I had two other interviews on Thursday in the Geary County district. We still continued praying each night and asking others to pray as well. Our first choice, best case scenario, was that we both would get jobs in Hutchinson. But we thought it was a long shot. On Thursday, both of my interviews went well. And one of the schools actually called me on Thursday with an unofficial job offer. I was torn, but I still wanted to try for the Hutchinson job. So I just said that I was interested in the job, but couldn’t give a for sure answer. On Friday, I made the two-hour trek down to Hutch, and the interview went well, I thought. The school did not even know about Thomas or that he was also a teacher who was interviewing in the district. So I of course told them that it would be great if we both got a job in the district. On Saturday, Thomas and I went back to Hutchinson again and he got offered the job 15 minutes after he left the interview. He said “yes, but only if you hire my wife”🙂 So his principal talked to my principal, and he let Thomas know that I should be expecting a call on Monday.
For two days, we waited and prayed. I worried myself sick. Then Monday (today) at approximately 10:00 a.m., I got the call and was offered a job to teach 1st or 3rd grade at McCandless Elementary. They are unsure of which grade I will be in, but I don’t really care. Thomas and I think this has to be a God thing, because we both got called in separately, the principals didn’t know that we each had a spouse looking for jobs. And the timing was just about perfect! Thank you again to all who have been praying for us during this difficult time. We have learned that prayer is powerful, and that God’s timing is perfect. I hope this story gives you all who are having a hard time or looking for jobs a little hope. Things will work out in God’s time. It may seem hopeless now, but have faith and keep praying! God knows your struggles, and He will bring you through them!!!

The Sad State of Bread


So today we made whole wheat tortillas from scratch. Crazy, right? Why not buy them in the store like a normal person? Well if you buy them at the store, you’ll be consuming: Whole wheat flour, water, vegetable shortening (interesterified soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil and/or palm oil), contains 2% or less of: leavening (sodium bicarbonate, sodium aluminum sulfate, corn starch, monocalcium phosphate and/or sodium acid pyrophosphate, calcium sulfate), sugar, salt, preservatives (calcium propionate, sorbic acid and/or citric acid), cellulose gum, distilled monoglycerides, enzymes, wheat starch, calcium carbonate, antioxidants (tocopherols, ascorbic acid), dough conditioners (fumaric acid, sodium metabisulfite and/or mono- and diglycerides).

If you make them from scratch, you’ll be consuming: Whole wheat flour, baking powder, salt, and coconut oil. YOU choose! And yes, the ingredient list above is from a popular tortilla brand (Mission), and no matter what ingredient list I read, I could not find a package of tortillas that didn’t have a lot of extra “stuff” in it.  Only solution: make from scratch. In fact, bread and other baked goods is probably the most difficult thing to find in a whole food/healthy/without-a-lot-of-extra-stuff form. Yes, I understand, a lot of that is necessary for the products to maintain freshness, but you would think, they could have some healthy choices even in the freezer section.

While tortillas have eluded me, it’s no comparison to my search for good bread. I have been on an epic search for “healthy” sandwich bread, and it’s just plain sad! I tried local grocery stores. Even brands like Oro-Wheat that don’t have high fructose corn syrup, still have all kinds of unnecessary ingredients. I went to the bakery at my local Hyvee, and even though the breads are “baked fresh in store” they still have just as many additives as the stuff on the shelves. I tried Panera Bread, and came out with a lovely loaf that they told me was baked fresh in their store. It tasted ok, but there was no ingredient list on it. Yesterday, I went back to Panera for a French Baguette, and this time I asked to see an ingredient list (they have to have these available for customers who have allergies). Guess what?! Just like always, there were all those extra ingredients. I asked the clerk (who was already annoyed with me for making her get the ingredient list binder) “Do you make the dough here or is it shipped to you and then you bake it?” She replied, “It’s shipped here.” Sooo fresh bread isn’t really that “fresh” now is it?

The sad thing is, the only place I could get truly fresh/healthy bread without all the extras was at the Farmer’s Market. A lady was selling loaves for $5 a piece and she had her ingredient lists on the bags. While this is nice, I won’t see this lady again until April 20th, the next time we have Farmer’s Market, so guess what I’m going to do? Make my own bread. Not only is it healthier, but it’s cheaper than spending $5 a loaf.

So my mission is to try each week, or every other week, to make a different baked good from scratch. This week it is tortillas. Next week, it might be bagels or english muffins. We’ll see. It will depend on my menu plan each week. I’ve got some bread stock-piled in the freezer for now, so I don’t have to worry about sandwich bread yet. Maybe a bread machine is in my future, but for now, it’s all going to be done by hand! Another great reason to make your own bread is you can experiment with all kinds of grains! And you’ll have more options for whole grains vs. refined white flour. I am excited to begin my next “from scratch” adventure! And thank you hubby for helping with the tortillas!

Here’s the recipe I used:


Yummy tortillas

Yummy tortillas

No, they are not perfect, but it’s the best I could do with a rolling pin. When I get a tortilla press, they will be “prettier.”

Spring is in the air!

So a lot has happened since my last post. We have re-organized the apartment and become more “green.” Now we use more glass storage in our kitchen (and less plastic). Instead of plastic utensils that we throw away, we purchased some bamboo utensils to use in our lunches we take to work. We are also using cloth napkins in our lunchboxes and hopefully soon, at home as well.

The compost bin has some added potting soil so the ratio of composted food to soil is more even. I’m hoping to start our herb garden in a couple weeks. I have around 30 toilet paper tubes now, which I will use instead of peat pots. We re-potted our green onions so now we can just trim a bit whenever we want to add them to a dish. Who knew you could sprout the green onions over and over?! Thank you, Pinterest!

We have a mini recycling center in the kitchen now, composed of a multi-tiered drawer system and a basket on top. This will make it easier when we take it to the recycling center (everything will already be sorted out).

In addition to our “green” efforts throughout our home, we’ve been trying more recipes using a whole foods, plant-based diet. There have been a few things that didn’t turn out so well, but for the most part, everything has been delicious. It takes a while to get used to the new way of cooking and the more subtle flavors you get from veggies/grains as opposed to drowning everything in dairy and oil.

I’m finding it more difficult to do without a food processor, though. There are so many things I would like to make from scratch and they don’t all work in a blender. This is definitely on the top of our wish list. One of our favorite things though (thank you, blender) has been fruit smoothies. Here’s one we made last night:  

Recipe for Awesome Spinach Fruit Smoothie Extraordinaire from Amanda’s Brain

1 cup of baby spinach (organic is best)
1/2 cup frozen mango
1/4 cup frozen blueberries
1/4 cup frozen strawberries
1 banana (PEELED! don’t forget to peel it!)
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup milk (we used almond milk, but cow milk would work too)

Pack the spinach in the blender first. Add the milk and blend. Then add all the fruit and blend some more. When blending becomes too difficult add orange juice. Blend to desired consistency, stirring with spatula every so often. Add more fruit if it’s too runny; add more liquid (preferably OJ) if it’s too thick. No need for yogurt as the banana acts as the smoothing agent. We got a nice smooth consistency much like when we used to make our famous strawberry banana smoothies. DON’T be alarmed that the smoothie is green. The color is obviously from the spinach, but you’ll just taste the fruit.

ENJOY! And of course you can substitute ANY frozen fruit that you want. Obviously, if you used all fresh fruit, you would need to add some ice cubes.

We have been loving making homemade snacks/desserts! I wish sometimes, I could bring some to share with the kids at school, but our schedule gets changed so much, that inevitably, if I planned to bring a snack, I wouldn’t be able to give it to the kids until later. And, as we know with homemade snacks, they don’t keep as long as the store-bought, ultra-preserved, what-in-the-world-is-this-ingredient-type snacks. Just last week, I was excited to be able to provide snacks for a class for state-testing, but was then told to bring them next week even though the kids might not actually eat them for another month. So, making a homemade snack was out of the question (unless we had freezer space at school, which we don’t). So I was forced to buy store-bought, ultra-preserved, what-in-the-world-is-this-ingredient-type snacks. I am bummed, because I don’t want to eat these myself, so I shouldn’t expect kids to eat them!

But enough of me on my soap box. I do hope that when I’m a teacher again, I can offer my kiddos healthy snacks, and request that people sign up to bring snacks on specific days, so they have the option of making something homemade or even (gasp!) bringing in fresh fruits or veggies. It just seems counter-productive to feed a kid junk food and expect them to do their best on a test. Their brain needs FUEL! And yes, I know, not all processed foods are created equal. Some are considerably healthy (i.e. Lara Bars), but those puppies are typically $1.50 each, and I’m sorry kids, but I can’t afford to spend $37.50 to feed a group of 25 of you, for just one snack. You’ll have to settle for Kellogg’s granola bars (now with MORE FIBER, haha) and a bunch of un-pronounceable ingredients.

Check out some pictures below of food we have been cooking recently:

First, Greens and Beans Chili, then Lentil Loaf with fresh grean beans and southern style potatoes, then broiled potatoes on couscous with sauteed asparagus, and last, veggies burgers (soy free). Sorry for the blurry-ness, but my camera flash doesn’t work.