Pregnancy Must Haves

I have honestly enjoyed this pregnancy so much! I am not feeling miserable and dying to go into labor like I was with the first three pregnancies, soaking up time with Archer and waiting for all this bad weather to pass us is keeping my mind off all the false labor signs my body throws at me.

Nothing more fun than living in a rural area during an ice storm and finding out you are in the "crippling zone" according to the Weather Channel. The other night I woke up every hour, praying that the interstate was still open as I timed contractions. The bonus feature is if we lose power, we also lose water because our well is electric-- so I kept bathing everyone and washing clothes in anticipation! Thankfully the worst has passed and we made it through unscathed.

Bring it on, ice storm!

If you look past the kids and out the window, you can see how much our street looks like an ice rink

I pulled out all my best Pinterest activities to keep everyone entertained
Anyways, fascinating weather tales aside-- here are four main reasons this has been my favorite pregnancy--

1. I am pretty sure it's my last, so I am trying to soak up even the harder moments like realizing my maternity pants are too tight or falling down in the aisles at Target when I get crazy leg contractions (has anyone else ever had these? I literally drop to the ground they are so intense!)

I actually told Mike to remind me to enjoy this season of life if I complain about not being able to walk, bend over, shave my legs, etc-- then quickly said he better not mention it if I'm cranky and hormonal so to choose his timing wisely. Oddly, he hasn't mentioned it... so that says a lot.

2. It has helped to be busy with the older three, I often forget that I'm pregnant until I walk past a mirror and think, "Oh dear God!"

3. This time I decided to deliver with a midwife instead of an OB-GYN. I could write a whole post on the differences and my personal experience with one compared to the other. I can honestly say I have felt far better this pregnancy and had more support than with the first three, and can attribute that to some of the suggestions my midwife group has made. But perhaps you have a great OB who is making those suggestions too! I am definitely not against OB practices, this was just the right choice for us this go around.

4. We haven't moved! It is amazing how much easier it is to be pregnant when you don't move at 32 or 36 weeks as we did with the last two. So much less stress!

Bump Pic at 36 weeks, I think it has doubled in size the last two weeks thanks to the bag of fun size Snickers Bars and chips I've eaten during our Ice Storm!

These are a few of the things I am loving that have made this a sweet pregnancy for me:

1. Blanqi Tank Top

One of my biggest complaints during pregnancy is Round Ligament pain. During my 2nd pregnancy, it felt unbearable as I was carrying around a one-year-old and I even left my job to become a stay-at-home mom earlier than planned because it got so bad. I finally caved and bought one of these tank tops a month ago and it is amazing!

They are expensive but I can say the support is worth every penny. I wear it a day or two in a row, then throw it in the wash and let it air dry. I know I will love it post-partum too because it is really long, has great chest-coverage and smooths everything out!

*I think it runs true to pre-pregnancy size and wore it in a small even though I typically buy tank tops in a medium because I shrink everything!*

2. Dr. Teal's Epson Salts

These are like my pregnancy life-line! By the end of the day I will feel so achy and tired, after soaking in these for 20 minutes (sometimes it's like an hour) I get out and feel like a new woman. As I've shared before, I am even known to get in the bath during the day while my kiddos wreak havoc around me just because it alleviates so many of my aches and pains.

3. Vitamins

I have never taken much beyond a prenatal and this time I am seeing some major differences and know that these are the real deal! Taking a combination of Vitamin D, Magnesium, and Iron in addition to my prenatal has helped me with postpartum/pregnancy depression, achy legs, and most importantly (to me!) insomnia. I had insomnia terribly with each pregnancy where I would lay awake for 3-4 hour stretches at night. I almost never wake up now, if I do it is just to go to the bathroom and that started two weeks ago versus other pregnancies I was getting up through the night from 20 weeks on.

This combo from Trader Joe's was a huge help during my morning sickness the first 15 weeks

4. Soma Cool Nights Pajamas

Since I am basically an old woman trapped in a thirty-something body, wearing these isn't much of a stretch-- my mom got me hooked on them (much to my hubby's disdain, but hello, comfort > sexy at this point in life). The patterns are a little dated but I LOVE how they feel. Even though we turn our thermostat down to a balmy 63 degrees at night, I still get hot. I like to stay pretty covered so I can jump up and quickly deal with the toddler issues that plague us through the night and these pajamas have been awesome. *Their bras are also my favorite nursing bra. Don't worry, I'll spare you the photo of me in my saucy digs-- the bump photo above made me reach my selfie-capacity for the month!

5. Ginger tea

This has helped me avoid a steady stream of TUMS in the evening hours when heartburn sets in and also helps curb my cravings for all the sweets I have started stockpiling around the house-- because, nursing = so hungry!

6. Ina May's Guide to Childbirth

If this is your first pregnancy, I'd love to share this book with you. It definitely has an emphasis on natural, drug-free childbirth but even if that's not your game plan, I LOVE the positive outlook on labor and delivery shared through dozens of birth stories.

So often our culture makes childbirth out to be an awful, traumatizing event with the woman screaming at her husband and begging everyone she sees for drugs! Although this may have been my experience at least once, I am so grateful for all the stories shared in this book about how beautiful and positive childbirth can be. Reading it before having our daughter prepared me for an amazing and dare I say, peaceful birth experience the first time around!

That's all she wrote for now, please share any of your pregnancy must have's as well so I can build a good list for all my favorite mamas-to-be! And lest you think that I am bragging and pregnancy is nothing but smooooooth sailing, let me share that I've been through the ringer with the following pregnancy symptoms that I did not have the previous 3:

- weird face rash (dermatologist said it's called parietal dermatitis and will *hopefully* go away post-partum)

- lots of new skin tags-- sick out!

- a 3 week go around with mastitis that led into thrush-- even though I'm not nursing yet! Just a fun precursor of what's to come

So I promise it's not easy breezy over here and we're all in the ups and downs of this season together!

What a Difference a Day Makes

I woke up this morning, singing this little tune to myself, because oh my gosh, what a difference a day can make!

Bless the families who have had ongoing sickness this winter, I feel for ya. We stiff-armed the stomach flu for weeks, hiding away in our house in the woods, washing hands constantly, even asking family to stay in a hotel when they had gotten the bug right before visiting us. So extreme! But it attacked in the night, the sick stalker that it is-- and we fell like dominoes last week. Like the warrior woman I am, I held out the longest, eating each meal like it would be my last and got sick a few days ago. Nothing more fun then having the pukes nonstop for 12 hours with a 7-8 lb baby in your belly. Noooothing more fun.

So thanks to lots of Gatorade and like 1,000 mg of Zofran (but seriously, everyone MUST have this wonder drug on hand. It is mostly safe. Ask your doctor, don't listen to anything I say) yesterday was my first day back "on the job" and Hubby merrily went off to work at 6 am with his hot coffee and whatever drive-thru deliciousness he picked up for breakfast while I woke up to three little beggars who wanted to eat everything that we didn't have in the house and fought like wild animals throughout the day.

Here Archie, please dear God let this kleenex box entertain you while Mom lays on the couch.

Mom hack: set a box of Kleenex in front of your toddler, then later have the older kids put it all back in the box calling it a game named-- "Do This Or I Won't Give You Dinner"

Archer is at that get-into-everything find-all-the-dangerous-spots-and-climb-them-nonstop phase. His ambition throughout the day is to move this chair around to leverage his little body on top of chairs/tables or as a launching pad to get inside the kitchen drawers.

"Now I lounge, later I destroy..."

While I was trying to "rest" he brought me 2 pouches of taco marinade, an opened pouch of applesauce, an opened fruit cup (he bites through these with his savage little teeth), each piece of tupperware, and cleaning products from under the kitchen sink-- all within 90 seconds. Don't worry, the cleaning products prompted me to shoot up and bind all the cabinets shut with rubber bands.

I did manage a little rest in the bathtub for 45 minutes during his morning nap where I laid with my eyes shut surrounded by bubbles with my side-kick Mack sitting next to me throwing toys in the tub "just checking to see if they float, mom" and asking me non-stop questions about hockey and the female anatomy. Awesome.

And then nobody napped in the afternoon, because I wanted it too much-- and it seems like they only stay in their beds these days when their dad puts them down which he did for two straight weeks when he had his time off. "Back to the previous scheduled programming, Mom!" Their little cries for water and complaints that their rooms were simultaneously "too dark" and "too bright" kept me away from a cozy bed and the hope of 25 minutes of uninterrupted Netflix.

One of the highlights of my day came with a knock at the front door at 4 o'clock from my BFF the UPS man (funny story about that: he really is our friend because many days he is the only other adult I converse with so I chat him up non-stop until he starts backing away and I know my time is up. For Christmas we bought him this lovely container of Macadamia Nut Caramel Corn and it sat on our counter for a week before I could catch him at the door. The kids ADORE him and call him "their buddy" and will run outside in their skivvies to say hello and give him a high-five each day so they decorated a card and helped me wrap the popcorn. Well, a week is a loooong time for a pregnant woman to have fancy, unopened popcorn sitting on her countertop. So I gave in, ate half the container in one standing after a particularly bad morning, and swapped out the note and bow for a box of fancy cookies. That same afternoon, I heard the side door open and when I went to see which kid was escaping, I saw Emmy standing at the door with a package, waving good-bye to our beloved UPS man who was getting in his truck. With a container of half-eaten popcorn! I chased him down with his cookies and couldn't stop laughing about it when he told me that Emmy insisted that this popcorn was for him, even though he could clearly see it was almost gone!) Since the front of our house is windows and that means if there is a knock at the door, it is very hard to hide-- I had to answer wearing my post-sick outfit, which all the mamas know is a ridiculous assortment of stained sweats, no bra, and in my case, as I realized after I signed for the package and quickly bid him adieu, a dozen pieces of popcorn (it's a thing) all down the inside of my shirt.

Next came dinner time where I attempted a meatloaf and homemade rice pilaf-ish-dish and halfway through cooking I felt so tired and frustrated that I sat down at my computer and ordered an instapot (have you heard all the rage?!) and am hoping that it also comes with a person to cook the meals and clean my house. And cheer me up because I started to feel REAL bleak about this day.

So definitely by 6:00 pm, when I called hubby to see when he if he was almost home only to learn that it would be an hour or more, the tears started flowing. Gosh it is hard, people! I know I'm not the only one and maybe yesterday was your first Monday back to normalcy after Holiday break too. Or maybe your little one has started throwing tantrums and you fear this is your "new normal." Or maybe everyone is still acting spoiled or doesn't have a sleep schedule post Christmas crazies. Or maybe the New Year isn't looking any better than the last so you're freaking the freak out and trying to find some kind of hope to grasp on to.

To get through the rest of the evening, I rushed my little people to bed without baths, clinging to the promise of the Bachelor being on tv, abandoned the kitchen cleanup, and YET AGAIN laid on the couch only to look into the face of my adorable offspring 4, 5, 6, 7, at least 8 more times as they came to me with their complaints of belly aches (probably valid, the meatloaf looked a little iffy) a finger that "hurt from the inside," inability to regulate their body temperatures: "I'm too hot" (put on your summer jammies) "I'm too cold" (get a damn blanket), the fakest cough you've ever heard, and finally the breaking point was Mack telling me his knife wasn't sharp enough to fight the dragons that get into his room at night (um, where is this knife?)

Mack showing his concern for sick Mama

At this point, the hubby came home, tamed the children, cleaned the kitchen because he knew I was a woman on the edge-- and he really loves me, and we watched the super slutty episode of the Bachelor until he realized the National Championship game was on, jumped up, yelling at me that he had to watch two teams that he cares nothing about RIGHT AWAY.

As I fell asleep last night, googling "how to be a good mom," I vented all my fears to Mike about my inadequacies and impatience and loneliness and inability to do it all. I told him I felt so guilty because what was the point of having all these kids when all I wanted all day was to be left alone! And we're having another one! Any day now!

He reminded me that a. I had the stomach flu 24 hours ago, of course it was a bad day b. it would be better tomorrow c. I am a great mom d. Our kids are well loved e. God's grace will give me what I need, when I need it

SO if you don't have a Mike, I hope you have a GREAT friend/sister/mama who can talk you off the ledge of mom-guilt when the days are long and the minutes are FOREVER. And just to remind you...

It will be better tomorrow (and if it's worse, let's put our hope in next week)

You are a great Mom

Your kids are loved

God's grace will give you what you need, when you need it.

Exhibit A: This morning I woke up confused at 8 am wondering why nobody had came in my room yet asking me to look at their poop in the toilet or feed them jello for breakfast-- only to find three fed children, coffee brewed, and time for a quick shower before the interstate opened back up and Mike could go to work. Alleluia, God sent an ice storm! I feel like a new woman today even though I've got the same things as yesterday on my to-do list-- my to-do-list exclusively reads: "keep children alive", and nothing else, fyi. I am reminded that sometimes, you can't save the day. There is no fun activity for the kids, no vacation to plan (does anyone else obsess over this?!), nothing fun to order online (I mean you can try, but it doesn't always help-- let's see how much joy the instapot can bring us), no fancy popcorn to hide in a closet and eat, you are just stuck. And on the really bad days, sometimes the best thing is realizing at 10 pm you can go to bed and start it all over again tomorrow. Womp, womp...

As I've been ending my recent posts, here's another great memo to cling to, from a fav hymn:

"Great is Thy Faithfulness, Lord God unto Me...
Strength for today, Bright Hope for tomorrow...
Blessings all mine, with 10,000 beside!"

Christmas Promises and New Year Fears...

Welp, thanks to my favorite letter board and some lingering (ahem, the whole tree) Christmas decorations, I'm still singing Christmas carols over here...

Every year all the Christmas hymns make me cry, cry, cry. This past December was the same yet a little different as I really am clinging to the promise that lays beneath these words:

For me, the past year has been an intense struggle. I really battled for my joy. Ending the year, I can look back and say that I chose well and won that battle but looking up ahead to 2017, there is a great deal of fear because in my little world the war isn't quite over.

As I have processed through my feelings and emotions the last few months, most of my fears hover and circle around bringing a newborn to our home this January. I don't think I have to defend my love for my children-- and postpartum depression is certainly by NO MEANS an absence of love.

I adore each of my littles and truly love being their mother. For me, along with that intense bond and love, there are some shadows that follow the joy of a new birth. Shadows that have been amplified by the isolation and loneliness where we live. Raising toddlers and babies can give mamas a "groundhog day affect" and the fear of another year, waking up each day to a rhythm I cannot find the beat to-- at times gives me great anxiety. A sense of being trapped and suffocated by the extraordinary needs yet ordinary moments that each day and each child lays before me.

Thankfully, and there will always be this transition for me-- in my words and in my thoughts-- THANKFULLY, there is a great hope that keeps me from being pinned down by all my fears.

It doesn't matter much that it's a new year, each morning, I choose hope. Yes, I am totally loving the cluttered down house, the fresh pages in my planner, and the quiet whispers that GOOD THINGS are on our horizons. But if it wasn't newly 2017 I would be fighting for hope anyways because that's what I am choosing to do.

Last month I listened to a podcast where Jo Saxton talked about digging in deep to prepare for harder seasons of life. I keep almost missing this. I definitely missed it in December where I clung to my kids' paper Christmas lists, ambitious holiday traditions, over the top meal plans, and an endless stream of beloved houseguests to lay before me a foundation of joy. False! They were temporary joys. In every way, the food, the lists, the packages, the people-- are all gone. The Christmas cookies are very much gone-- all 5 dozen... that I ate by myself... in less than a week. The packages we'll keep coming thanks to my love for Amazon Prime and ordering things at 2 am like when I realized on Monday that I am 36 weeks pregnant and have no newborn diapers in the house!

The lasting joy is always Christ and the promise of Christmas tells me that He comes, He stays, and best of all-- He makes all things new, even this tired mama's heart.

Digging in deep looks for me like getting up a few minutes before my kiddos (only to have us still be the last ones to arrive at preschool!), clinging to promises in Scripture, talking to dear friends who know and love me, asking my husband for help in the kindest ways I can muster, and embracing in the last few weeks of a very sweet pregnancy.

If 2017 looks like it may hold some hard seasons and transitions for you as well, trust that the one who calls you will speak tenderly to you there.

"See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland."-Isaiah 43:19

"Therefore, look! I will now allure her. I will make her go out to the wilderness, and will speak to her heart." -Hosea 2:14

He is good, all the time. 

"And he who was seated on the throne said, 'Behold! I am making all things new.' Also he said, 'Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.'-Revelation 21:5

How I'm Preparing for our Fourth Baby

Well at 8 months pregnant and with the holidays rushing upon us, I'm feeling like we're in the final stretch of baby cookin'.

With each pregnancy, I cannot wait to be full-term and hold that baby in my arms. I struggle with anxiety about the baby's health and feel out of control having him in the womb versus out in the world where I can hold him and see him breathe. I have no idea what's going on inside that belly of mine aside from the crazy gymnastic moves this little man likes to perform! I am trying to soak up these next weeks as I sense this is our last pregnancy, and am praying I will feel content in this season and not wish it away hoping for the next.

Since we're having our third boy, (that is still a shock to say) there is little prep involved (I think? My brain is fried!) Emmy and Mack are 14 months apart, this baby and Archie will be 15 months apart, so we always have had two cribs. So fun! He doesn't need any clothes or baby gear so there is no need to shop or gather items. I tweaked a few things in his nursery, moved furniture around yesterday, and got a set of blackout curtains instead of the 3 level system I currently have blocking out the light (brown pillow cases thumb tacked to the windows, with a shower curtain on top, and then a set of white curtains finishing it off! Room darkness is a HIGH priority around here lest my children realize it is actually DAYTIME while they nap).

Picking a name is the hardest thing on the docket-- being the foolish gal that I am, I was so CONVINCED this baby was a girl I promised my husband he could name it anything he wanted if it was a boy. Since I got sick only with Emmy during the 1st trimester, never with either Mack nor Archie, I felt sure during those first 15 weeks of intense nausea (I couldn't even eat which is a BIG deal for this hungry lady) we were expecting a girl. I was super surprised when the ultrasound tech told us otherwise, and may or may not have cried when Michal went through his roster of hockey player names when our appointment ended. We disagree on 99.9% of name options so it will be interesting to see what we decide on. I feel like I will forever hold the ultimate trump card because this sweet babe is actually coming out of my body-- and that is a legit deal!

I wrote a diddy last year when we were getting ready to have Archer-- looking back, my main priorities were having comfy clothes and meals lined up for when he arrived! But this time, there is just one thing I am really doing to prepare my heart and home to love and nurture this little baby -- and that is spending more intentional time with my people.

Emmy meeting Archer, last year. Mack, showing us that he could care less
I know there is a torrential downpour of "not right nows," "mommy needs to feed the baby," and "I'll do that for you laters" that are about to rain down on these kids. I know how snappy I can be with my husband when I am sleep deprived and worried about nursing. I know that my own sweet soul can struggle with the loneliness and isolation having a newborn can bring.

So I am hunkering down and focusing on what matters most right now. For me, that means closing the computer, walking away from my phone, cooking things from scratch (by this I mean following the steps on a box instead of microwaving something from the freezer!), reading my kids lots of books, and ignoring my inner "hustle." Even to sit and write this post (my version of soul-care!) I am ignoring a messy kitchen and two baskets of clean laundry but I know that it brings me joy to put my thoughts to print, so here I sit. I am trying to look my kids in the eye for as long and often as possible, and think for ways to love my husband well-- which during this season mostly looks just like cooking dinner and making sure he has clean socks! Such a romantic!

Some more "sibling love" photos to follow :)

Last night Archie slept like a newborn, it was wild. He has been sleeping 12-13 hour stretches since he was 10 months old (don't be jealous mamas, he barely naps!) but for some reason last night he was up for an hour three different times! Sidenote-- I try to not engage with my children after 7pm. This sounds harsh but since I solo parent most of the day, I feel like it's good for them and me to have some separation and boundaries. I totally get the co-sleeping and long bedtime routine, a lot of that is due to temperament and cannot be helped, it also blesses kids by giving them that extra security and bonding with mom and dad.

My kids might need counseling later, but I tell them all the time mommy is not coming into their room at night unless it's an emergency. A month ago Mack started coming into our room throughout the night to tell us various things like he was "too hot" or that his "sound machine wasn't loud enough." I reviewed our rules with him saying, "Mack you can only come in our room if you see fire, you throw up or wet the bed" and he quickly added: "Or if a big dog comes into my room!" Yes Mack, seeing as we do not have any pets, you should definitely come get us if that happens!

Another quick 'mom fail' to share with you-- a few weeks ago Mack came into my room. I was sleeping soundly as he told me he soaked through his pull-up and wet the bed. In my dreamlike state, I asked him if he could "just take care of it himself" and fell back asleep! As I woke the next morning, I remembered what happened and felt so bad that I didn't go check on him. I asked him if he was okay and what happened-- he told him he got himself changed, put a blanket down over the pee, threw out the pull-up, turned off his light, and went back to sleep! At least I am encouraging independence, right? Honestly, I really did feel guilty-- he's only three!

But back to my party last night with Archie, each time I went into his room to rescue him from his tears, I would pick him up and he'd quickly fall asleep on me. This rarely happens anymore, and just feeling the weight of his little body on my arms and shoulders was so good for my soul. As I rocked him through the night, I realized he wasn't teething or sick, he just wanted to be held (I also think he was scared of the new dresser I put in his room because he kept pointing to it and crying! I guess he isn't as into the midcentury furniture vibe as his mama). I shed many tears through the night thinking that this little boy is still a baby. He needs his mama and requires a lot of love through this stage. It is my daily prayer that he feels secure in our home, with his parents and siblings, and that our attachment can help him through this transition ahead. I sang him my favorite hymns and fought to hold on to the truth that God is arranging our family the best timing possible and that His goodness will provide everyone with what they need-- all in ways that my own parenting never can.

I have several dear friends expecting babies in the next few months and hope that this can encourage them too. Transitions are hard on kids, but watching each of mine welcome a sibling has canceled out all the stress, sleeplessness, and distractions new babies can bring. It amazes me the way they are so resilient and their love for their new brother or sister carries them through seasons where they might otherwise feel "second tier." I am definitely asking God and my friends for perspective on this as well, as we need all the advice we can get!

When ever I feel worried about my capacity as a young and clueless mama, I cling to this verse-- "When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I" -Psalm 61:2 Nothing else brings me more freedom or relief, and I need to remember that as I try to distract myself with giving our kids a knock-out Christmas to compensate for how hard it is for me to get off the couch!

Spending Fast Recap: What it was like to do a year long fast!

It feels so funny to be writing about this now, but as new readers have found my blog I get lots of questions about it! Also I wasn't super great about documenting things along the way because Mack was teething that whole year, we moved, and Mike worked out of town at the time. So it is fun to reminisce and reflect on this significant season of life.

I am honestly so grateful that I did this fast. I had no clue but it was preparing me to live a different way, that now, two years later, I am called to live every day. I no longer have access to the stores and restaurants I did when we lived in the suburbs. I think I would've struggled with a lot more frustration and bitterness adjusting to more rural life but because of the fast, it helped me give up "hobby shopping" and learn to go without things I thought I needed. (Also, thank God for Amazon Prime!)

I started my fast on a whim, in January 2014. I decided to do it as we were opening Christmas gifts and announced it to my family, who all laughed at me. A few days later, friend looked at me and said, "Well, how exactly are you going to accomplish this?" To which I just shrugged and replied, "Not sure! Just one day at a time."

The first few months were the hardest as I learned to reorient my thoughts and time. For instance, I didn't realize that while my kids napped, I often browsed social media, Pinterest, and online shopped. All three of these things fed my desire to accumulate more stuff. So pulling them out of my life was kind of like getting gum out of carpet.

Also I began to experience an edgy anxiety when I had a break from being at home with the kids and was given some alone time. I would head out of the house and instantly felt frustrated-- how was I supposed to feel refreshed and enjoy my "break" without getting a latte, wandering through stores, and treating myself to a little something to carry me through to my next "break?" I began using those hours to sit at a book shop in town, bringing my own hot tea or coffee in a travel mug (which had become my new sidekick in life) and getting my refreshment from books or being more in tuned with others. I also regenerated my love for being outside by taking more walks and driving to a park for an hour instead of the mall.

What was the hardest part? One of my biggest personal struggles during the spending fast sounds so silly now-- but it was joining a fancy gym! A Lifetime fitness went up in Des Moines and we joined as a family. The first few weeks I felt ridiculous-- during my last pregnancy, I had gotten frustrated by all my ill-fitting workout clothes and donated them all aside from a few things I wore to do household projects. Well once we joined the gym, I found myself wearing old sorority t-shirts and Soffe shorts with paint splattered across the bum while all the other moms looked super hot in their Lululemon spandex and neon colored Nikes! My sneakers were the same ones I had been wearing to mow the lawn. It was humbling and a great reminder that we don't need to buy the right items to fit in. I never really "fit in" at that gym but I sure did enjoy myself-- using the nursery so I could layout alone by the pool all summer long!

Did I ever cheat? Yes! One time. Mike and I were attending a wedding and I had that same old feeling of "gosh, I have nothing to wear!" So without skipping a beat, I got in the car, drove around the corner to T.J. Maxx, and bought myself the first cute black dress I saw. I wore it that night and did not feel guilty for one second. But the next day I really did start to feel like a cheater so I called my friend Katie to confess- she is so great she offered to buy the dress from me so it wasn't really breaking my fast!

Aside from that, I really did stick to my plan. One time I even drove backwards out of a Caribou drive-thru lane after remembering I was on a no-latte fast! It definitely helped to have accountability by announcing it on FB and keeping a little blog.

Did we save money? Not the first few months because I began buying more kids clothes and spending more on groceries to fill that void I felt. I also started buying more extravagant gifts for people getting married or having babies. When I realized what I was doing, I reeled that in and went back to the old budget. We did end up saving quite a bit of money by me doing the fast. Also during the fall, I started a direct sales business where I made a decent income and instead of blowing that on miscellaneous things we didn't need, I saved it to buy all our Christmas gifts that year as well as pay our mortgage!

After about 6 months, being on a spending fast felt like a way of life. I stopped talking about it to my girlfriends all the time and would often forget it had once seemed like the biggest deal. I made the most of holidays and my birthday by asking for things I had felt like I "needed" like jeans that fit and new tennis shoes. By the time Christmas rolled around and the year was over I felt like I could go even longer.  If you are considering doing one I highly encourage it and would love to answer any other questions you have!
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