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Baby #3 // All the Details

January 22, 2019

Those of you who follow along over on Instagram and Facebook have probably seen our news that we are expecting another baby in August! We are feeling SO thankful for this sweet baby and blessing and as someone who knows what miscarriage is like, we never take the gift of new life for granted. For me, the first trimester always brings its fair share of worry and fear, probably more so than others, and while I can’t say that ever totally goes away, we’re trying to take it day by day and feeling so thankful to be nearly through the first trimester.

I got a lot of questions on Instagram and in personal conversations about this baby and pregnancy, so I thought I would give all the details in one post!

1. Were you trying?
Yes! We had been trying for a few months. Unfortunately, because of my history, we either need to be “in” or “out” in terms of trying. It’s one of the things I’ve grieved in the past, because it feels like it’s such a decision to make and sometimes I wish we could just “see what happens” like some couples talk about, but for us we need to make sure our medical ducks are in a row before trying.

2. What medical intervention did you have to take with this pregnancy?
As I’ve shared before, with both Ainsley and Collins I took progesterone in the second half of every cycle we were trying to conceive. It didn’t seem to be enough to wait until I got a positive pregnancy test to begin supplementing, but rather I needed the supplementation in-cycle for both girls.

This time around, we had been trying for a couple months and I told my doctor I didn’t feel like myself on the progesterone. I usually have ZERO PMS symptoms and while on progesterone I was feeling crampy/gassy/generally off. He suggested testing my progesterone levels in an un-medicated cycle. So we pulled the supplementation and tested the cycle we conceived. Of course, we didn’t know that would be the case, but my un-medicated numbers were in the optimal range – something that’s never happened for me before – which was incredibly encouraging for me to see this change in my hormones.

Once I got a positive pregnancy test, I started supplementation with progesterone injections as a precaution given my history. We are monitoring my levels every other week and I’ve continued to ride the “optimal” or slightly below optimal level at each draw. We recently reduced the amount of progesterone I’m getting and will test again in two weeks. If it’s another optimal level, I may be able to stop the injections. Otherwise we will continue to take the progesterone until I get two consecutive draws at optimal or above optimal. With Collins I was on injections until 32 weeks!

I also continued my regimen of a daily baby aspirin, a bio-available B-complex vitamin, my prenatal (I’m taking this one this time around because it’s tasty and easy to remember to take), fish oil, iron, Plexus Bio-Cleanse, and probiotic.

The cycle before we conceived, I also started to take a series of herbs prescribed by my acupuncturist, and once I got a positive pregnancy test, I started the same custom blended herbal drink 2x per day that I took with both the girls.

3. Are you high risk for this pregnancy?
Some people have asked if we are “high risk” for this pregnancy. The answer is no, and we weren’t considered high risk for Collins’s pregnancy, either. Ainsley’s pregnancy was miraculous, tumultuous and just generally a wild ride, but not something that was deemed likely to be repeated, hence no need for a high risk diagnosis.

4. How/when did you find out?
I took a pregnancy test one morning a couple days before my period was due – it was negative – I took another that afternoon and saw the faintest line. When I went in to have my blood drawn that afternoon my HCG level was a 6 (anything 5 and under is technically not considered pregnant) so we were VERY cautious while we waited two more days to test again. We were so excited when my levels more than tripled and continued to do so for another test. We’ve had one early ultrasound and heard baby on the doppler at the doctor one (and about a hundred times at home on my own doppler, too).

5. When are you due?
August 11th! (If you don’t like to do math, that makes me just shy of 12 weeks right now)

6. How have you been feeling?
Horrible! I mean, definitely could be worse and could also be better is the better answer. I guess it’s just worse compared to the pregnancies I had with Ainsley and Collins. I remember so many days with both girls that I felt SO normal that I would be brought to tears fearing something was wrong. But this pregnancy, while I’ve still had days when I’m worried, I haven’t had many moments when I wasn’t fully aware that I’m pregnancy-sick.

7. Is this pregnancy different than past pregnancies?
Yes and no!

One of the biggest differences this time around has been my relationship with food. I remember specifically craving lots of bread, salty carbs, and generally bland food with both Ainsley and Collins. I craved orange juice and eggs like a mad woman early on, too, and could hardly look at coffee for 14 weeks.

This time around, I’ve been drinking coffee the entire time. While it doesn’t sound AS good as it used to, it still appeals to me. From weeks 5-8 I could hardly stand to eat ANY food. I wasn’t grossed out by the idea of food, I just didn’t want to eat. I would often go until 11 am without eating and probably survived on 1,000 calories a day for a while, which is probably why I was down a few pounds at my first appointment.

But after week 8, food sounded neither good nor bad. I haven’t had ANY foods that specifically sound bad, and have been thankful to enjoy vegetables the entire time thus far, though baked potatoes have sounded particularly good and I’ve found myself snacking on lots of protein!

8. Do you have a preference for gender?
I do not. I am thrilled about the idea of three girls (yay sister club!) but I would love to experience what it’s like to have a boy, too! It’s so not a cliche for me – I really am just so thankful to be pregnant and to even have a third baby and gender hardly seems important to me.

That said, I know my hubby would love to have a boy! And I totally get it – because having a child of your same gender is fun – so for his sake maybe a boy? But really, I rest in the fact that God has already decided and will give us the perfect addition to our family.


Family

Green Cleaning :: What Works for Us

January 4, 2019

When you think about green cleaning and removing toxic products from your home cleaning routine, do you get a headache just thinking about it? Because it’s been a SLOW process for our family as we’ve attempted to clean up the products we use at the Hofmeyer house.

Note: While this might not be the case in all homes, my husband is our dedicated bathroom cleaner and because of that, he gets a big say in the products we use and if they cut-it in terms of cleaning power. 😉

One of my favorite brands for safer cleaning products is Seventh Generation. While I’m sure there are “cleaner” options available (and I’ve tried some of them) when looking for the best mix of safety and efficacy, Seventh Generation meets my standards for both.

It’s important to note that not all Seventh Generation products are created equal. Even the same product but in a different scent can have a different formulation and hence, safety rating. I’ve put the EWG score (A being the safest) behind each of the products I mention, if available.

Ultimately, the best green cleaning products are those you are actually going to use, vs. being tempted to go back to your conventional favorites. So even if you aren’t using the cleanest products possible, I’m in favor of progress not perfection and taking baby steps to getting where you want to go.

Seventh Generation Chlorine-Free Bleach (EWG Rating: A)

Seventh Generation Disinfecting Multi-Purpose Cleaner in Lemongrass Citrus (EWG Rating: A)

Seventh Generation Toilet Bowl Cleaner (EWG Rating: A)

Everyone Hand Soap (EWG Rating: 2)
-This is more personal care than cleaning, but I’m putting it in the cleaning category since it sits in our kitchen and bathrooms as a cleaning agent. This is a super affordable and EWG verified hand soap I find at our local Walmart.

Seventh Generation Liquid Dish Soap (EWG Rating: C)
-This doesn’t get as good of a rating as the dishwasher packs, but our dishwasher doesn’t work well with the packs. When researching, I found their powder gets an “A” rating so we will most likely switch to that next.

Seventh Generation Lavender Laundry Detergent (EWG Rating: C)
-I also noticed that the Seventh Generation Powder Laundry Detergent gets an A rating, vs. this liquid version that gets a C. So we’ll likely switch over after we run out of our current supply.

Seventh Generation Natural Laundry Stain Remover(EWG Rating: C)
-Not the cleanest option and when I was researching, I realized that my Oxy Clean was actually rated just as well as this. So, a learning process for me because this is greenwashing at it’s finest and a great reminder to research each product even within a brand. (Safer alternatives: Biokleen Stain + Odor Remover, FIT Organic Laundry + Carpet Stain Remover – though I can’t vouch for the efficacy of either of these products)

Norwex Floor Mop System (large size)

Norwex Kitchen Cloths

So, as you can see, it’s not perfect! We’re definitely a work in progress, but as people who used to have items that were the worst of the worst, we’re making progress and I’m excited about continuing the process as it evolves!

Madison

Family

Random Acts of Kindness Cookie Decorating Party

December 9, 2018

This post is sponsored by Soapbox Influence in partnership with Vanilla MasterCard Gift Cards.  As always, all opinions are my own. I carefully select which sponsored posts to take on with YOU, my awesome readers in mind! I hope this party helps inspire you this holiday season. #VanillaGiftWinnerWonderland #VanillaGift

We frequently purchase gift cards at our local Walmart, including these Vanilla MasterCard Charming Characters Multi-Pack $20 gift cards that I used in the cards (pictured below) for our random acts of kindness. For every Vanilla MasterCard Gift Card purchase until 12/23/18 participants will be entered to win one of over 100 different prizes, including a grand prize of a $10,000 Macy’s shopping spree! To enter, after purchasing your gift card, go to https://www.winner-wonderland.com/ to enter.

Christmastime, and the month of December, really, is a time when adults have plenty of Christmas parties and events to attend, but a little person Christmas party? Well, we decided to tackle that this weekend with a few of our favorite little people and their mommas for a Preschooler Random Acts of Kindness Cookie Decorating Party! If you’re thinking that toddlers and preschoolers decorating Christmas cookies with sprinkles and frosting sounds like a hot mess, then you’re right! It was a bit crazy (as pictured above) but we also had a great time on a cold and snowy Saturday decorating cookies, drinking coffee (the moms) and listening to Christmas music while the kids played.

Here’s a bit more about the party structure and details that make it happen:

-I provided all the supplies so friends could just show up and enjoy themselves! All the supplies were purchased at Walmart, where we do nearly all our grocery shopping these days, and for ease and convenience I used pre-made dough since the focus was really on the cookie decorating! I made around 100+ cut-out cookies and got a variety of toppings, including sprinkles, candies, gum-drops, candy canes, etc. I DID make the frosting from scratch because it’s worth every bit of extra effort. 😉

-Lately Joe and I have been really conscious that we want Ainsley and Collins to grow up thinking about others rather than becoming super self-focused, so when I was approached about partnering with Vanilla MasterCard Gift Cards to find a creative use for gift cards this holiday season, I immediately thought about how they could be used to make someone’s Christmas a bit brighter! Each family who came to the party left with a plate of decorated cookies and a card with a $20 gift card in it to deliver to someone as a random act of Christmas kindness!

-We knew it would be a mess letting littles decorate cookies, so we decided to put down plastic painter’s tarp under the table. It was a great idea because all we had to do was wrap up the tarp after the party and wipe down our table and clean-up was a breeze!

-Let’s be honest: The mom’s ended up decorating a lot of the cookies after the first 15 minutes, when the kids lost interest and started playing with toys, but any excuse to get together and celebrate the season is a win in my book!

-If you want your cookies to look good and cohesive, stick with a color palette. Even cookies decorated by little people can look good when you stick with a color scheme (we did red, green and white) that makes everything look cohesive. Another idea would be blue and white. Or white with gold and silver sprinkles. Or white and red. Plus, it’s easier to plan around, too!

We had such a great time and it was a tradition I would love to continue every year! Plus, knowing that the cookies and gift cards when to brighten someone’s day make it even more special. With so much focus on ourselves and our own loved ones this holiday season, it’s nice to shift the focus to those around us more often.

Madison

Family

Preschooler Christmas Gift Guide

December 2, 2018

Hi friends! Checking in today with the first of a few holiday gift guides. Today, I’m sharing some of my favorites for the preschooler-aged kiddos in your life. All of these items we have used/purchased/loved and/or have firsthand experience with using so I can vouch that if your kiddos are anything like ours, they will love these gifts! That said, this is geared more toward Ainsley’s age rather than Collins’s age, though Collins certainly plays with most of these toys, too!

Here are some of our new favorites!

Rocktupus //
We were gifted this as part of a campaign I worked on with the brand, and I’m so happy to say that the girls really have loved playing with this toy from Fisher Price. It allows you to mix and match the little plugs to create different instrument sounds and both Ainsley and Collins have enjoyed it.

Plus Plus Basic Assortment Building Pieces //
My dad gifted these building pieces to Ainsley when we celebrated early family Christmas this year and she has been having so much fun building and creating with these little interlocking pieces. The come in a bunch of colors and are so fun to use!

Dexterity Dough //
Ainsley got this from my mom as a safer, more user-friendly Play Doh and it’s awesome! It’s made without any artificial fragrance and or petroleum and smells like oranges!

Kwik Stix Paint Sticks //
A less-messy alternative to painting, these have been a favorite in our house for a while. They almost feel like writing on paper with lipstick, and they dry quickly so you don’t have to worry about the typical mess associated with traditional paint.

Shopkins Happy Places Rainbow Beach Convertible //
Ainsley gifted this to her cousin, Lottie, for her birthday and then got one herself for Christmas from her aunt (we celebrated early with my side of the family) and it’s been a hit in our house! The Shopkins craze is something I’ll never understand, but preschoolers love them!

Plae Shoes //
We have bought Ainsley a pair of Plae shoes for the last 4 or 5 seasons and she loves wearing them. We got her this very pair for her next size up. They are so comfortable, wear well and are cute enough to go with most outfits – casual and dressy.

Magna Carry Playbook //
So great for keeping little hands busy in church, in the car, etc.!

Little Tikes Jump & Slide Bounce House //
We finally did it! We bought a bounce house for the girls to keep in the basement. I promised myself last winter that I wouldn’t go another winter without a bounce house for the basement. So excited to see their excitement about this!

Little Tikes Indoor Trampoline //
Another solid choice for getting wiggles out in the winter months!

Paw Patrol Slippers //
Ainsley has these, she loves these and she wears them all the time!

Family

Parenting the Strong-Willed

November 14, 2018

The other day, I shared a post on Instagram about these two little strong-willed firecracker children of mine. I rarely talk about the difficult parts of parenting littles in specifics online, because I want to protect my children and their dignity online even from a young age. I don’t think showcasing their meltdowns, tantrums and fits for the world to see is fair to them. That said, I do, on occasion, like to pull back the curtain on how I struggle parenting little people and what it reflects to me about my own heart and mind. And let me tell you, while my girls can be extremely sweet, bright and lovely, they are also equally blessed with strong wills and big emotions. I think they have both their mom and dad to thank for that. 😉

These two little people? They are the best little humans around. I love that they are spunky, fearless and bold and these qualities are things I have no doubt will serve them well as they grow older if we can successfully harness and direct them in the right way. But in the trenches of parenting tiny people, it can be a challenge to not get caught in the comparison game.

Why are my kids not content to sit through an entire church service playing quietly and reading books? Why does sitting through a meal in a nice restaurant feel like torture most days? Am I doing something wrong? Do parents of quiet, mellow children know something I don’t? Sometimes it can be emotionally draining and overwhelming as a parent, can’t it?

But you know the funny thing? In my heart of hearts it doesn’t really bother ME at all that my girls are this way. They are kids. Vibrant, funny, normal, energetic little people and I love their zest for life and budding desire to assert their independence and wills. Their extroverted little personalities that would rather be walking around the room talking to strangers and putting on a show rather than sitting quietly at the table coloring a picture.

At my best, I’m the confident, assured mom who delights in the challenges and joys of parenting these two girls. Who prays for patience during meltdowns and calmly handles the bumps in the road. At my worst, I get caught up in the trap of the expectations of others, the sideways glances when a meltdown happens in public or my kids are just NOT having it at a restaurant.

I’m not saying it’s unimportant to develop skills like obedience, listening, and quiet play, but that there certainly is a large margin of error for letting kids be kids and allowing their unique personalities to shine. Realizing there are areas of improvement to be had at every turn in this job called parenting, but beating ourselves up about it is not necessary nor helpful in the long-game that is parenting.

So to my fellow mommas of little kids with big personalities and strong wills, I see you! I don’t just see you, I’m right there with you, chasing my kid around the room as she runs away from me, pulling a crazy, climbing baby off a table, walking out of the room with a mad preschooler, having serious-whisper conversations with a preschooler out in public.

It’s rarely easy, but it’s always worth it, and I have a feeling we’re doing just fine. And on the days when we are completely worn down? Well, His mercies are new to us parents of strong willed little people each and every day. Can I get an amen?!

Madison