Based on a true story...
OK, rant OVER :)
Homemade Laundry Soap
I had one of those crazy days where I bit off more I could chew, and then I decided to make laundry detergent! At this stage in the pregnancy game, I tend to forget I'm pregnant until I'm exhausted and my back hurts, then I remember to breathe and rest, and eat vegetables... that's all I have to remember, right?
Anyway, back to the laundry detergent! I've been wanting to make my own for years. With three basic ingredients, it's healthier and has fewer chemicals. It's incredibly cost effective, and can be tweaked for your family’s needs, so what's not to love?
For this recipe, I followed Wellness Mamas laundry detergent instructions for powdered soap. It calls for washing soda (not baking soda), borax, and a shredded bar of natural soap.
For the soap, I chose an amazing smelling natural bar of soap I had received from the Wow Bloggers conference. This bar held a special place in my heart after its beautiful fragrance soothed my first-trimester morning sickness. Yes, I'd smell the bar every morning and it would help squelch my queasiness.
Now, my food processor went caput about a year ago, so I spent way too much time hand grating this bar of soap. I have a whole new level of admiration for pioneer women after this task… and sore fingers. I highly recommend popping your soap in the food processor for a few minutes, or be forwarned that grating soap is quite a task!
The ratio is simple 2 parts borax, 2 parts washing soda, 1 part shredded soap. This bar produced about 2 cups of shredded soap, so I ended up with a large batch that should hold us about 6 months!
Tricare Maternity Cost increase
In 2018, Tricare underwent many changes. Some made being health easier, like not needing a referral from urgent care. But along with these changes came hikes in co pays and prescription fees that haven’t been easy on many military families. What’s shocked me the most has been the astronomical increase in costs for maternity care.
In 2012, I gave birth to our first child on Tricare Prime in Danbury, CT. All of my routine prenatal care was covered by a local OBGYN practice with the exception of the 20-week anatomy scan. We chose to pay out of pocket for that ultrasound so we could find out the gender of our baby [and they got it wrong, but that’s a different story]. At the end of the 9 months and after my routine hospital delivery, we received a $30 bill. In 2014, the next baby arrived, along with the very same bill. Two years later, we welcomed our third baby in a home birth covered under Tricare Standard, and guess what the bill was? $30!
Now, in 2018, we’re expecting to pay much, much more. Instead of a $30 copay for all the prenatal care, we have a copay per visits. So that’s $30 x 15 visits for a total of $450 and THEN there’s the additional $150 hospital fee, bringing the total cost of care to $600. I hate to complain because I know that that cost is nominal compared to what some have to pay for maternity care, but when VA income is didn’t increase at remotely the same rate, this pay hike hurts! AND it gets a whole lot worse…
Being well over an hour away from a military base has left us three maternity providers that Tricare works, but due to the changes, NONE of them will take on new patients with Tricare. So, I had to get on Medicaid maternity care as a secondary insurance plan. I found a local provider that takes Medicaid, but because Tricare is my primary insurance, they’re too concerned with taking me on as a patient because they think if the my federal health insurance denies the claim, then the state-run insurance will also deny it, so they asked us to pay $7,500 up front and then they’d reimburse us for what insurance pays. Despite my calls to Medicaid which confirmed they’d pay what Tricare denied, we don’t have that kind of money to shell out ahead of time, and that just seems silly when you have not one, but two insurances.
So this endless cycle of “no, we don’t work with Tricare anymore” and “Sorry, we don’t know if Medicaid will pay…” have landed me 8 weeks behind in maternity care. I was finally able to see a provider, but the drive is nearly an hour without traffic, which is longer than my last labor, so I might have to go with I-84 for a middle name if I don’t actually make it to the hospital.
Insurance is always a headache, and Tricare has driven me crazy many, many, times. But, between the cost hike and the ridiculous drive, I think we’ve hit an all-time low. At 26 weeks, I feel like my quest for quality maternity care is just getting started… even though many practices don’t take patients after 28 weeks…
The Spiritual Art of REMEMBRANCE
Have you ever been spiritually stuck, wandering around in a dry, desert place? Well, I feel like I’ve pitched a tent in the Egypt over the last few months. You’d think that my mind would be peculating and preparing for my upcoming birth, but this season has been completely opposite. I’ve been wondering what on earth I’m doing and trying to figure out God’s plan in the midst of changes and uncertainties.
In an effort to get unstuck, I’ve been going through a process of remembrance. Often times, these desert seasons are so dry and lonely because God is counting on us to pull from the seeds He’s already planted and remember the great works He’s already accomplished. Just consider how many times God instructed the Israelites to remember: 48 different times! Before Moses died, he warned, "Be careful, and watch yourself closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live..." (Deut. 4:9). The Lord gives the instruction to remember (often through ceremonies and monuments) as well as teach others about it because when we forget, we easily diminish our own faith as we stand at the foot of great mountains.
The Bible recounts how David stirred himself in remembrance before he went toe to toe with Goliath. David remembered how God had already helped him defeat a savage lion and bear and defend his flock from ferocious animals (see 1 Sam. 17:34-35), so of course God would deliver Goliath to Davids feet.
Take a moment and ponder the amazing things has God done in your life. They may have been 15 years ago, but God's not bound by time. When we remember, we stir ourselves in the same spirit of love, power, and gratitude that enveloped us years ago! Could there a better way to wake up from spiritual slumber??
I’ve been remembering a particularly fertile season in my spiritual walk. Back in 2014, I began a journey of praying for one stranger a day. I wanted the Love of God to move mountains in the lives of people that I encountered, and through this process, I feel like I developed a much deeper relationship with the Holy Spirit. I’ve kept so many memories and lessons packed away in my mind, and I’m preparing to share them on the blog so that I can re-learn and re-member God’s awesome works and hopefully encourage you along the way!
Let’s buckle up and prepare for a brand new adventure with God!
P.S.- I'd love to hear some of your awesome memories of things that God has done in your life in the comment section!
Like many mamas, I'm a super thrifter. I pick up super cheap clothes for my kids all year long, spending $5 here and sometimes $30 there. I maintain set prices in my mind if what I will and won't pay for clothes. For instance , $4 is the highest I'll go on pants or shirts and I'll [maybe] splurge and spend $5 on a designer kids dress.
I also will pick up clothes a size or two bigger and hold on to them for a few years if it's an amazing deal. This gets a bit confusing because it's easy to forget what's neatly tucked away in a box and what we actually need for the next season.
I decided to make a simple way to inventory each childs size, and what they have stores for clothing so I don't end up with 4 different winter coats that are girls size 4. They're cute though :)
First, I had to figure out just how many shirts, pants, dresses, and pjs my kids needed.
I started by keeping this number basic to allow room for when I come across a Paw-Patrol t-shirt for $1 that my two year old can't live without.
I decided on 6 shirts, 6 shorts/skirts, 7 pjs (because my kids can't grasp wearing one pair for two nights...) and 3 dressier items (i.e: dress shirts for boys and dresses for girls).
My latest Savers 50% off haul was
2 boys pants
4 boys super hero shirts
Boys rain boots
6 girls shirts
2 girls pants
1 dress shoes
1 girls rain boots
And that about meets our fall clothing needs.
Loaded Veggie Lasagna
And not broccoli with the zucchini, broccoli ricotta. My kids don't even realize it's there, but it adds amazing color and nutrients. And if you want to really take it to the next level, you can add some spinach to the ricotta as well!
Start by grilling your zucchini slices. This helps you avoid zucchini lasagna soup.
While the zucchini is grilling, cook one cup of broccoli. I used organic frozen broccoli and microwaved it, or you can sauté fresh broccoli. Then send it through the food processor. I used my nutribullet to turn it into a pure.
Next, mix ricotta with one egg, 1 tsp Italian seasoning, a pinch of salt and your broccoli pure.
By now you should be able to pull the zucchini off the grill. Charred zucchini doesn't compliment this dish, trust me in working on my grill skills ;)
Pour some sauce into the bottom of an 8x8 pan. Add a layer of zucchini, then ricotta, then zucchini, and more sauce.
Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes uncovered. Then pull it out and top with extra mozzarella cheese for another 5 minutes.
Enjoy, and pat yourself on the back for eating your veggies!
Healthy Skin with Everclen
Without relying on covering up my skin, I've focused on maintaining healthy skin. My normal face washing routine involved a cheap salicylic acid face wash, with coconut oil for moisture afterwards. It's worked with my acne prone skin, and I hate changing something that works... until I heard that salicylic acid isn't considered safe during pregnancy. Yikes!
What I thought was basic and healthy turned out to be filled with harsher chemicals than I had considered!
A few months back, I was introduced to a new brand called Everclen. Their products are made without harsh chemicals, allergens, or fragrances, so it's perfect for sensitive skin and pregnant mamas. I started by sampling their face cream and I loved how non-greasy and quick drying it was. I added some lavender oil into the lotion for an extra dose of goodness.
Then I checked out Everclens facial toner. I hadn't used a toner since my Proactive days in high school, so I wasn't too sure what to expect. It added a nice amount of moisture, without feeling greasy, and my skin felt smooth and clean.
is a writer & tired homeschooling mom of five.