Your Simple and Comprehensive Guide to Non-Toxic Living

Non-Toxic Living

This post contains affiliate links. This means I may make a small commission should you choose to purchase through one of my links. I only recommend products I personally use, like, and trust. Thank you for supporting my blog!

Our culture as a whole is becoming more and more aware of the harmful chemicals we are constantly surrounded by.

Do a quick google search “how many toxins are we exposed to everyday?” and you’ll be shocked by what you find! From unnatural, processed ingredients in our food, to toxic chemicals in our shampoo, toothpaste, body lotion, household cleaning supplies- you name it, we are exposed to harmful contaminants on a daily basis.

No wonder we have a population battling heart disease, diabetes, and ever increasing cases of cancer and autoimmune diseases! Not only is this bad news for us and our families individually, but also for our economy and nation as a whole. More and more of our country’s federal spending is being put towards health care costs for a sick population, leaving less room for other crucial aspects of our nation’s survival, such as defense, education, infrastructure, and the environment. 

(If you want to learn more about how processed foods and toxins not only negatively impact our health, but also the economy and planet as a whole, I highly recommend “Food Fix” by Mark Hyman, M.D. He also provides very insightful answers on how we can help our world through non-toxic living!) 

(*Also, if you’re a mom and want to be well educated on non-toxic living / how toxins and aluminum impact your families health and how you can make safe choices for your children from pregnancy through their teenage years, definitely grab a copy of “The Vaccine Friendly Plan” by Jennifer Margulis, Ph. D and Paul Thomas, M.D. I love both of these books because of the fact based, common sense approach to health, toxins, and how they spread awareness about these very important topics!)

Thankfully, more and more people are realizing the need for non-toxic living!

So what if you want to live an overall non-toxic, healthier life, but you’re not exactly sure where to start? I got you covered! I was completely overwhelmed when I first began wading into the expansive waters of clean living. I hope this blog post can simplify the process and get you and your family off to a safe start!

What Does Non-Toxic / Clean Living Actually Mean?

I came from a fairly health conscious family. Both my parents are extremely active, we ate a well balanced diet, and we rarely ever had pop or junk food. As an athlete, eating healthy and working out were my normal way of life. 

But when my husband Daniel was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis, we had to revamp everything- from the food we ate to the personal care and household items we exposed ourselves to. 

I had no idea non-toxic / clean living was so expansive! It all seemed so overwhelming at first. I remember thinking “I just wish everything I needed to know was in one place!” So, from my life to yours, below is a simple but comprehensive guide to overall clean living, so that you can worry less and live better!

Food: Non-Toxic Living Starts with What You Eat

Let’s make this real simple: Our bodies and digestive systems do not change. However, our food and how it is processed has changed dramatically- particularly over the last couple hundred of years- making it very hard for our bodies to digest and handle it.

You can help your body out in a few simple, but very important ways:

  • Go non-toxic by eliminating pesticides and other harmful chemicals by eating Organic, non GMO foods.
  • Opt for the least processed foods that contain the least amount of chromosomes- such as ancient grains and heritage seeds and flour. 
  • Eat a wide variety of fruit, vegetables, and lean meat. Stay away from greasy, creamy, fatty, and sugary foods and drinks.
  • Drink TONS of water. This flushes toxins out of your body. If you struggle enjoying the taste of plain water, here is my favorite yummy vitamin and mineral packet that I mix in with my water for my afternoon pick me up! 
  • Don’t neglect your gut! Weight loss, metabolism, immune health, skin complexion, energy, you name it- it all begins in your gut. Incorporate foods rich in probiotics, such as greek yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut. You can get my favorite daily probiotic that Daniel and I use here. You can also check out my blog post on making your own sourdough bread- a great way to eliminate empty, processed carbs and add healthy probiotics to your diet all at the same time!
  • Eat REAL food. If you can’t pronounce an ingredient, you may want to avoid it. Stick with foods that you know the origin of and avoid ones with extra ingredients mixed in. 
  • If you really want to get crazy, incorporate juicing into your diet! Ginger root, Turmeric, Thyme, beats, and even garlic are all anti-inflammatory, anti-viral foods that we juice in our house several times a week to maintain overall health. (You can also incorporate them into your cooking, but juicing can be a great way to absorb the nutrients and give your digestive system a little break.)
  • One of the best ways to go non-toxic is to do a detox! Help your body out as it works to eliminate harmful toxins by doing a detox. There are lots of ways to detox- this is the 3 Day Detox I do once a month through my clean living company (It’s a gentle detox, don’t worry- white pants approved!). It will eliminate toxins from your body, reignite digestive energy, boost your metabolism and target bloating!
  • Eat as natural meat as you can find- with no hormones, nitrates, added steroids or other harmful ingredients found in processed meat. Organic, grass fed, lean meat is always the safest way to go. 
  • Everything in moderation: When it comes to eating healthy, moderation is key. For example, you may assess your diet and realize you need to cut some calories, but that doesn’t mean you have to resort to eating only a chicken breast and some lettuce for supper. You need calories, sugar, even fat (yes, you need fat!) in your diet. Just be sure you are getting it from natural sources. (Avocados for example are a great source of healthy fats because they are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, and berries and other fruit have natural sugars in them). Eat healthier, eat enough, and eat a variety. 

Now I should note here that if you have special health issues, you may need to adjust your diet accordingly.

For anyone struggling with Crohn’s disease or any form of IBS, I highly recommend the book “The Maker’s Diet” by Jordan S. Rubin. This really helped me understand the nature of IBS and how various foods affect inflammation in our bodies and our digestive systems! 

Non-Toxic Food Resources:

Eating Organic and non GMO is becoming more available and affordable. Target & Walmart both have their own brand of organic food at a very reasonable price! Aldi, Trader Joes, farmers markets, and even planting your own garden are also very affordable non-toxic options! Food delivery services like Thrive Market may be a bit more pricey, but they are available and may be worth checking out depending on where you live!

Personal Care & Household Items: Non-Toxic Living Made Simple

This was possibly the most overwhelming and time consuming switch for me. So I’ll save you the hours of researching and wondering which everyday personal care and household are harming your health and cut to the chase: Basically everything!

From skincare, to toothpaste, to shampoo and conditioner, to dish soaps and all purpose cleaners- just switch it all out to natural, non-toxic alternatives. I get all my clean living items that I use everyday shipped directly to my door each month through the company I market for. (I call it the Amazon Prime of Clean Living– what can I say, I’m a sucker for 3 day free shipping!)

I am in love with all of these products, but the shampoo and conditioner along with the all purpose cleaner are items I make sure to never run out of in our home! (FYI- the all purpose cleaner works amazing as a non-toxic stain remover as well!) Check it out for your one stop shop to clean living household and personal care items!

Non-Toxic Makeup

In addition to our skincare (check out my collagen skincare that has totally transformed my complexion and reduced those lovely wrinkles and eye bags, courtesy of mom life!) it’s important to take a closer look at the makeup we use! 

Skincare and Makeup can be loaded with toxins, putting women at risk for hormonal and infertility problems, among other health issues. If you’re looking for a place to start switching over in the makeup department, Young Living has some really great non-toxic, natural makeup, so feel free to check it out here!

Environmental: Wholistic Non-Toxic Living

Avoid plastics, BPA (found in the lining of canned goods, many plastics, and even freshly printed receipts), carcinogens, lead, and other environmental toxins that wreak havoc on our health. Here is a list of 20 toxins hiding in your everyday life!

Organic doesn’t just pertain to the food we eat. Clothing, mattresses, and other materials can carry very harmful chemicals- not ideal since our clothing and mattresses are in direct contact with our skin! Opt for organic alternatives wherever you are able to!

Do Your Research

I wish I could say that medical professionals always had the right information. I wish I could say that the CDC, pharmaceutical industry, and even the agriculture industry only had your health and safety as their main concern. 

Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Wherever there is money (LOTS of money in these cases) and power, there is room for corruption. I’m not saying everyone in these fields can’t be trusted or is even knowingly giving bad information- but not everyone is willing to risk their livelihoods, careers, and safety by asking the right questions and actually looking at the ever increasing evidence that there are some serious health issues in our nation that need to be addressed. 

Do your own research. Look at what your sources may have to gain from the narrative they are pushing. Follow where the money is coming from / going. Be your own advocate when it comes to your health and the health of your family. No one knows what is better for you than you. Never feel guilty for asking questions and wanting to make informed decisions. 

Again, I highly recommend “The Vaccine Friendly Plan” by Jennifer Margulis, Ph. D and Paul Thomas, M.D. This book was such a great source of middle of the road, unbiased information that allows parents to be informed and make decisions that are best for their own individual families and health history. 

Germs & The Immune System

I wouldn’t be a true germaphobe if I didn’t dedicate a little bit of space to this, so here goes:

Germs are how people get sick! Yes, they also build our immune systems, but the fact of the matter is: it’s just not cool to go around putting infants, the elderly and immune suppressed, or anyone else for that matter at risk. A common cold for you may be life threatening for someone else. Take care of your fellow humans!

Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. Sanitize the shopping cart (with natural, safe sanitizers– not more harmful chemicals) Clean off door knobs, light switches, and other high traffic areas in your home where bacteria and sickness may be lurking. I spray my house down with Thieves All Purpose Cleaner every night, especially during cold and flu season to protect us from harmful germs that cause sickness while also boosting our immune systems. 

We wash our hands and practice good hygiene (cover your mouth when you cough, wash hands after you blow your nose or touch your mouth) throughout the day, and eat immune boosting foods as well! You can check out my Clean Living Highlights on my Instagram profile for all kinds of tips, recipes, and resources on what we do to boost our immune systems on a daily basis!

Life Style

In addition to going non-toxic from what goes on and in your body, there are a few other things you can incorporate into your life that will aid to your overall health and well being!

Sleep

Sleep boosts our immune systems and allows our bodies to fight off infection, repair and rejuvenate itself, and even equips us to better handle stress and emotions. Try to get 8 hours of sleep a night, and go to bed early if you can. There’s a host of statistics and research about sleep out there- but they all seem to support one common theme: Humans need sleep! Plain and simple. Making sure you’re getting enough of it is a crucial step in non-toxic living!

Slow Down

Here in the U.S, we live a fast paced, high stress lifestyle. Stress can cause inflammation and hinder your body’s ability to fight off free radicals, as well as a major contributing factor to weight gain and digestive issues. (Source) Take time to slow down. Put the phone away and spend quality time with the people you love. Invest in relationships. Make time for rest. 

Say no so you can say yes to things that are more important. Be careful what you commit to and be aware what things you may be neglecting because of how you choose to spend your time! 

Spiritual Health

Pray. Trust God in the daily stresses. Be anxious for nothing and go to God with everything. Enjoy the comfort and peace of living in God’s presence. Here’s a few Bible verses that really help me when I’m feeling overwhelmed and anxious: 

Philippians 4:6

Psalm 46:10

Proverbs 3:5

Psalm 23

2 Corinthians 5:7

Jeremiah 29:11

Exercise

Not to look a certain way, but to feel a certain way. The endorphins that are released into our body when we exercise boost our mood, provide mental clarity, and gives us a reason to feel accomplished! Exercise also aides in a non-toxic lifestyle by releasing toxins from our body through sweat! Don’t over do it if you’re out of the habit of exercising. Make physical activity a consistent pattern and be proud of yourself for doing something good for you!

Mental Health

Yes, we can experience non-toxic living in our minds as well! Our mental health is one of the biggest contributors to our overall health- after all, the brain controls the body! Unfortunately, this is often the most neglected. I am first in line when it comes to letting my mental well being slide down the priority list- especially during busy phases of life (which, let’s be honest, when are we NOT in a busy phase of life?)

The Mind Controls the Body

Take time for yourself, Recognize what things feed your soul and refresh you and make sure you are doing those things regularly! Get help if you need it- there is nothing to be ashamed of! I’m a huge fan of counseling- we all have issues, why not learn to deal with them in a healthy way?! Pay attention to your mental well being and make self care a priority. 

Emotional Health

If better sleep, less stress, more energy and more meaningful relationships don’t boost your mood and help you better handle negative emotions, then I have a few more important tips:

Physical touch. Did you ever know someone who gave the best hugs? That was my grandpa. I always felt so loved and safe and happy when I was engulfed in one of his big bear hugs!

Skin to skin contact is the very first thing a baby needs when it comes into this world and I don’t think that need ever completely goes away. Hold your children. Cuddle with your spouse. Hug or high five a friend. It might sound too simple- but it works wonders!

Connect on an emotional level. Connecting with other humans- bearing your soul, being seen and heard and loved for exactly who you are is so important. Have heart to hearts and surround yourself with the people who love you.

Deal with negative emotions instead of suppressing them. Work and grow through hardships instead of letting them rule over you. Be your authentic self and make room for the people who accept who God made you to be. Get rid of toxic people and relationships and invest in uplifting, edifying ones instead. (That’s right- you can go non-toxic with the people in your life too!)

Dive into personal development so you can understand unhealthy patterns or behaviors that are deeply ingrained in your mind. Read personal development books, go to counseling, surround yourself with wise friends. Grow as a person and experience the freedom and peace that comes with it. 

Mamas- if you could use some support in this area, follow me on Instagram for daily faith based personal development and encouragement!

Conclusion

Healthy / non-toxic alternatives in the small things amount to significant benefits over the course of our lives. I may not have an autoimmune disease like Daniel, but I personally want to stay healthy so I can be there for my children and as they grow up. I want to feel good so I can enjoy a beautiful day with my family. I want to be active and have a good quality of life as I get older. I want to be around to cultivate a relationship with my grandchildren. 

It may seem like more of an effort or investment now to switch over to non-toxic living, but it’s a heck of a lot easier than dealing with ongoing health issues and the medical debt that follows. Clean / non-toxic living isn’t just about the here and now- it’s about whether or not you have hope in the future- for your own life, and the life you want for your family for generations to come. 

Clean living isn’t just about the here and now- it’s about whether or not you have hope in the future- for your own life, and the life you want for your family for generations to come

I hope this post serves as a simplified, but comprehensive guide to non-toxic living and how you can start on the path towards an overall healthier way of life!

Hop over to my IG and check out my Clean Living Highlights to get more non-toxic recipes, tips and tricks on how we eat healthy, live well, and boost our immune systems on a daily basis!

Sign up for my Weekly Newsletter to get access to free resources on clean, non-toxic, homegrown living! If you got value from this post, please share so others can benefit as well!

5 Simple & Healthy Meals for the Busy Mama!

I’ll cut to the chase- when it comes to cooking, who has time for that?! It’s 6 pm, your family is suffering from a severe case of hangry, and you’re whipped from a long day of adulting! As much as I enjoy cooking, I rarely have the energy for a fancy meal- or the dishes that follow. BUT before resorting to take-out or a pre-packaged, processed options, you CAN throw together a meal that is both quick AND healthy! Here are some of my absolute favorites- I hope you enjoy!

One Pot Sweet Potato & Chicken Dish

This dish was a life saver right after Aria was born! Cube up as many sweet potatoes, chicken breasts and onions as you want, toss some salt and pepper (or those 50 cent packets of Italian seasoning- yum!) over it, pour some water or chicken broth over it to cover the bottom of the pan and cook it in the oven at 450 degrees for 28 minutes! Make life even easier during the week by pre-cubing the veggies at the start of the week!

Greek Yogurt Cheese Quesadilla

This is my all time go to for lunch when Aria is sick of peanut butter and jelly! Spread some greek yogurt onto a tortilla, sprinkle cheese (you can always add veggies or meat if you’d like!) melt for 30 seconds in the microwave and put some salsa on it for added veggies. Fold, cut and serve! This dish has the protein and the nutrients to get your little ones to supper time!

Noodles & Veggies

This is a super healthy and super simple go to supper! Cook up some spaghetti noodles in a pot. While they’re cooking, throw together your choice of protein and veggies. (I like to use cod, finely chopped sweet potatoes, garlic, and beet or zucchini veggie spirals that you get from the frozen section at the store.) Season with garlic salt, pepper, lemon juice and any Italian seasonings you have like basil or oregano. Saute the veggies and meat in olive oil until veggies are tender. Put olive oil on the noodles and season the same way – use extra lemon juice and garlic powder. Toss together and eat up! This one is great for getting Aria to eat her veggies and it is super quick to put together!

Burger & Veggie Casserole

This is just a healthier and simpler take on hamburger and rice casserole! Brown your ground beef in a pot. Put ground beef and frozen ground cauliflower in a dish. Season with salt, pepper, and Lawry’s salt. Pour beef broth (I prefer to use beef bone broth for added nutrients and protein) and plain greek yogurt over it and mix until the yogurt is blended in. Pour uncooked elbow noodles into the mixture. Cook in oven at 400 degrees for 45 mins or until noodles are tender. You can put peas in it as well for added veggies!

Roasted Chicken & Veggies

This can be about anything you want it to be! Lay your choice of meat on one half of a cookie sheet (I like to cut chicken breasts into strips). Cube your choice of veggies and lay on the other half of the cookie sheet (I prefer sweet potatoes and onions). Pour olive oil over everything and Season to taste (salt and pepper work for anything!). Cook in oven at 450 degrees for 30 minutes or until meat and veggies are done. We love going to the farmers market in the summer and getting some fresh veggies to roast for supper that night! It’s a great way to try a variety of foods in your diet and switch up your meals so the kids don’t get sick of it!

Tips for Making Cooking Faster

Cut and store veggies before the week begins, that way you simply have to grab a handful and throw it in a pot when it’s supper time!

Cutting your meat into strips verses cooking an entire chicken breast whole makes cooking times shorter!

Keep base items on hand. (Beef or chicken broth, noodles, olive oil- whatever you notice you use most in cooking! I almost always use broth and greek yogurt.) You can always switch veggies and protein around, but this is a great way to make sure you always have the right items to make a flavorful meal!

Conclusion

I hope this gives you some healthy meal ideas that work easily into your life! Cooking isn’t always my favorite thing to do at the end of a long day, but I do love the satisfaction I feel from knowing I provided my family with healthy, nutritious food options that will help them in so many ways, and that doesn’t have to be difficult! I’d love to hear what some of your favorite recipes are!



Sleep Training Tips & Tricks

Ahh sleep training. As a first time mom, before Aria was even born I did all the research. I even wrote out a sleep schedule and posted it on our fridge months before the due date! Little did I know what I was in for!

Aria was colicky and had a scream loud enough to leave your hearing muffled and your ears ringing. She needed to be held and bounced on a bouncy ball constantly or else she would scream at the top of her lungs with no end in sight. My pre-planned sleep schedule certainly was no match for reality, but I still wanted to ease my baby into a healthy sleep routine that would benefit both baby and parents!

Every child is different, but I hope this article is helpful for you as you work on finding the best sleep routine for both you and your baby!

Tip 1: Set a Routine

Even though your baby may still have its days and nights mixed around, it’s never too early to begin implementing a nightly ritual. This doesn’t mean that your baby is necessarily ready to follow it, but by sticking to the same routine consistently, it will eventually become a source of normalcy and comfort to your child- and eventually, make your life a lot easier!

Set a time in the evening that you would like your child to eventually go to bed at. A half hour before that time, keep noise to a minimum and follow a nightly ritual- for Aria, it was bath time, lotion, jammies, and bottle. Once “bedtime” comes, turn the lights off and keep things very quiet. Even if your baby isn’t ready to be laid down for bed alone yet, doing this is preparing it for the environment it will eventually be comfortable falling asleep in by itself. I would turn the lights off at 8 pm and watch Netflix on a low volume while I bounced Aria on the ball. Eventually, we transitioned away from bouncing, but having that routine established made it so much easier!

Once you get to the stage where they are taking naps, having a slightly different routine is helpful so they know the difference between nap time and all night long bed time. For naps with Aria, I simply lay her in her crib and sing her her bedtime song- Somewhere Over the Rainbow- no bath time or bottle.

Tip 2: Timing is Everything

At first Aria had to be bounced constantly. Eventually, I was able to bounce her just to sleep and then lay her carefully down without waking her. After that, she transitioned to falling asleep on her own, without having to be bounced. However, all of these stages happened gradually and only when she was ready. I tried to ditch the bouncy ball many times with no success. I tried laying her down and making her fall asleep again and again and it didn’t work.

The reality is, you can’t make a baby do something before they are ready for it. The good news is, you will know when what you are doing is no longer working and it’s time to move on to the next stage. If your baby sleeps better in your arms or being bounced, then go with it! They won’t do it forever, and if it brings peace and rest for yourself in the meantime, then that is worth it!

I knew it was time to transition Aria to nap and bed times in her pack and play instead of my arms when she was crying for a bit as she fell asleep no matter where she was, the ball wasn’t comforting her like it used to and she was old enough to self soothe. Only you can tell what the signs will be with your own child, but watch carefully and when you feel something isn’t working like is used to, go on to something else that does work.

Tip 3: The 90 Minute Sleep Schedule

This was our saving grace once Aria was old enough to follow it and it has established her sleep routine that lasts to this day!! The 90 minute sleep schedule is a theory based on the sleep cycles of children under a year old. It goes that every 90 minutes, your child’s awake cycle is on the downward end, and they are ready to fall asleep if you provide the proper environment for them to do so. (You can google this and read all about it online!)

Once Aria was ready to fall asleep without the bouncy ball, I would make note of what time she first woke up in the morning. 90 minutes from that time, I would swaddle her, feed her, and lay her down in her crib. At first she cried for a bit, but she always ended up falling asleep. Whenever she woke up, I would make sure to put her down 90 minutes from that time.

I found this routine to prevent her from getting overtired and therefore fighting sleep. Even if she wasn’t acting tired, she always fell asleep and had a nap, even if it was a short one. I especially loved it because it gave me frequent breaks throughout the day as well, which oftentimes I really needed! Aria even started to expect and look forward to her nap times. It was a much needed time for her to reset and re-center herself. She even went through a phase where she would crawl to her pack and play and wait next to it if we were nearing the 90 minute mark! I can’t complain about that!

The 90 minute sleep schedule not only established a great nap time and bed time routine for us, but it also established a good connotation of sleep time for Aria. She loves her crib and she hasn’t fought us on a nap or a bedtime since we started doing it. (This doesn’t mean she doesn’t cry at times, but she is able to self soothe and her crib is a comforting, safe place for her to do that as she works on falling asleep.) As long as we followed her schedule, she had no trouble going to sleep wherever we took her and with whoever was watching her at the time, which was a life saver for us as and allowed us to travel with her and have babysitters with no issue at all!

Tip 4: Stay Strong!

Once your child is old enough to self soothe and it’s time for them to learn how to fall asleep without your help (remember- this is a healthy and important thing for them to do!) then you need to stick to your routine and not budge. Aria knows that we will not come back in that bedroom unless she really needs us, and she will not get out of her crib unless she really needs to. If she is just fussing because she’s tired or fighting sleep, we let her be. If she’s screaming because her leg got stuck in the crib, or her diaper needs changing, obviously we will take care of her and then put her back down immediately. You can still be there for your child and establish that sense of trust and security without enabling them to need you to fall or stay asleep.

Pick a routine and stick to it. Right away, there will be more tears, but if your baby is old enough to self soothe, they will adapt. To this day, although Aria’s routine has changed in some ways, at its core it is almost exactly the same as when we brought her home from the hospital. A half hour before bed we give her a bath, lotion her, put her in her PJ’s and give her a bottle. At 7 pm every night we lay her in her crib and sing her somewhere over the rainbow. Then I kiss her on her forehead and walk out quietly. This is the same as the first day I took her home from the hospital, only I’m laying her down in the crib instead of continuing to bounce her to sleep.

Conclusion

Having a sleep routine for Aria has brought so much peace and stability to our household. It’s given Daniel and I much needed time together in the evenings, and it has resulted in a child that isn’t overtired, doesn’t dread naps and bedtime, and finds comfort and safety in her crib and routine. Although there were ups and downs while transitioning and establishing her sleep routine, I’m so glad we were intentional about it from the very beginning.

I hope his article gave you some good ideas about what things might work to implement into your family and routine! Give yourself grace, be patient, and realize that everything is only a phase! These sleepless nights will pass, and having a set routine should help them pass sooner! I’d love to hear what sleep tips and tricks have worked for your kids and family!

A Toddler Mom’s Guide to a Get Out & Stay Out Type of Summer!

Happy Summer! Whether or not your neck of the woods is warmer than mine (we’re just getting out of the 60’s here in Iowa) the season is young and I am here to help you enjoy it to the fullest! As a toddler mom and pregnant, I have committed to still finding creative ways to get outside, soak in the sunshine and enjoy every ounce of summer! Here’s some top favorite summer activities that work with my Wife/Mom/Boss Life that I hope give you some fun ideas as well!

Stroller Walks

Duh! If you have a toddler, this is the ultimate go-to summer activity that you can both do together, AND with other mama friends (that is, if you can coordinate nap times)! Slap some sunscreen on, wear a hat (protect that forehead from wrinkles) and get some exercise in!

Farmers Market/Coffee/Shopping Outings

The town next door to us is filled with super cute coffee shops, little clothing boutiques, as well as food coops and farmers markets. Yes it can be a hassle packing up the stroller and the kids, but it’s worth it to me to dress up cute, head over with a friend, grab my favorite summer coffee drink and just stroll around enjoying the town for a little bit! Doing a little light clothes shopping and grabbing some fresh produce from the Farmers Market create a fun mix of treating myself and also getting some needed errands done!

Two Words: FOLDABLE KAYAK!

This is by far the best investment I’ve made this summer. I absolutely love kayaking and being on water, but I don’t live on a lake and I don’t have a truck or trailer to haul around any major outdoors equipment. But THEN I discovered a foldable kayak on Amazon for only $62 and so far, it has been rocking my world!

Inflatable and light, yet sturdy and durable, this foldable kayak is super easy to assemble and disassemble, and literally fits into a bag that you can toss into your passenger seat! Whether you want to spend the day on the river or float on the lake with a good book, this kayak is well worth the investment!

POOL TIME

Whether it’s taking your little ones to the public pool, or filling the kitty pool in the backyard, this is a great way to break up the day, stay cool, and get your tan on mama! (Check out this awesome pool floaty for babies and toddlers!)

Porch Swing

Ok- even if you don’t have a porch, creating an outside space where you can simply sit and enjoy the summer day is one of life’s simple pleasures. One of our favorite saturday morning traditions has been to eat breakfast on the porch as a family. There’s something special about drinking a cup of coffee outside early in the morning, plus, Aria loves the change of scenery!

It’s also a great change of pace throughout the day. For example, yesterday I had an hour and a half before Daniel got home from work, so I grabbed some blocks and some books, and Aria and I sat on the porch together watching the cars go by and chirping at the birds. It’s those kind of simple moments that make memories you will have forever.

Bike Rides

Combine exercise with enjoying the beautiful summer day! Biking is great for everyone, whether you’re just taking a spin around the block or you’re hitting the trails for a good workout! My mom and I love to go for early morning bike rides on the weekends and grab breakfast together afterwards. So far I have left Aria with Daniel, but next summer I will be investing in a good two kid stroller that can also be pulled by a bike and it will be a family affair!

Frolfing

If you have a frisbee golf course near you, frolfing is a super fun outdoor activity that doesn’t take much experience to get the hang of. You’ll need to bring your own discs, or you can try your luck with a regular frisbee (it probably won’t work as well, but it’s better than nothing!) Get a group of friends together or make it a fun little date with your spouse!

For the Super Outdoorsy Mama

If you really love the outdoors, fishing and horseback riding are my all time favorites (as well as kayaking, but I already covered that.) I also would like to get a hammock and get more into hiking, but that isn’t quite in the cards for our schedule and current phase of life. Campfires on a starry night are my favorite summer and fall activity, and if you’re into camping, make it a family affair!

Gardening-ish

Ok, I’m not a gardener. I used to help my grandpa with massive vegetable gardens and I loved it, but it just hasn’t worked for me since having kids. But having a few plants to water can be a simple and sweet summer activity- Aria loves “helping” me water them! If you DO love to garden, go for it! If you’re like me and you like the idea but aren’t quite ready to commit, here’s some easy doable things you can experiment with without getting in over your head!

Tomatoes in Pots

I did this in college when we lived in the middle of the city. I had two cherry tomato plants in pots on our tiny little apartment deck. I put my organic coffee grinds and eggshells in them everyday and kept them well watered. They were perfect for grabbing a couple tomatoes for a salad or sandwich as they ripened!

Potted Herbs

I also did this when we lived in the city. I filled one big pot with a few of my favorite herbs and grew them on the deck. I loved throwing them in whatever we were having for supper, but mostly, I just loved the smell of fresh basil on a summer evening. Someday, I’m going to have a window box filled with herbs outside my kitchen window to remember that sweet summer in our first apartment.

Ferns

I love ferns! I had one in my library during the first few years out of college. My mom grows massive ferns on her porch every summer- we call her the crazy fern lady! We traveled through the south a couple years ago with my parents and many of the houses had ferns on the porch, but we never saw a single one that came close to being as ginormous and luscious as the ones in our little Iowa country home.

The reason I love ferns so much is because of how classy, elegant and sturdy they are! They dress up any porch and give it a sense of classic charm, and they are really hard to kill! Our crappy rental house porch needed some help, so my first move was to screw in some plant hanger hooks (is that was they’re called? You know what I mean!) and hang two ferns proudly on each side. Put in a little fertilizer and water the heck out of them- they will take off. Like I said, they are extremely durable, so don’t be afraid to turn them over and give them a good shake, fluff and pull out their leaves, and rip off any leaves that are brown!

Fresh Bouquet of Flowers

When I was a little girl, I would pick a fresh bouquet of wildflowers (and dandelions- I was adamant that a weed was simply a title and shouldn’t define the enjoyment of something so pretty!) for my mom and grandma. Even if my grandparents weren’t home when I walked over, I would leave a big bouquet on their kitchen table with a note on a napkin. After I moved away for college, my mom re-did my high school room and painted it yellow and purple in honor of those summer dandelion and wildflower bouquets.

Whether or not you decide to try your green thumb out this summer, having a fresh bouquet of seasonal flowers somewhere in your house will bring the sunshine and the summer right into your own home! I love picking out beautiful seasonal bouquets from the farmers market, or better yet, picking my own from the fields outside my parents house. You can get as creative as you want with your arrangement- it’s like your own little work of art!

The Main Thing to Remember

You don’t have to have a big vacation or crazy adventurous weekend road trip to get the most out of your summer. Enjoy the little moments right where you are. I’m writing this blog post on my side porch in the evening while Daniel is gone and Aria is in bed. The cherry tree in front of the porch is in bloom, there are no bugs yet, and the summer air smells like fresh cut grass and lilacs from the neighbors yard. It’s simple, it’s peaceful, and it sure beats watching Netflix! I hope this post gave you a variety of fun yet simple ideas, I’d love to hear about your favorite outdoor activities in the comments, and most importantly, I hope you have a wonderful summer!

You’re Pregnant- Now What?!

I remember that first amazing moment of seeing those 2 lines on the pregnancy test! The moment when suddenly there was another little life in our family and I felt the immediate sense of being a mother! After Daniel’s long journey with health issues, we didn’t know if having kids was ever going to be in the cards for us- seeing those 2 lines was the most joy filled moment of my entire life.

But what NEXT?! (Besides jumping onto my sleeping husband at 4:45 am to tell him the news! He was as excited as I was- although a little more out of it!)

When I found out I was pregnant, I resorted to Pinterest and Google for my next steps and got sufficiently overwhelmed. SO, I have put together a list of the most important first steps to take that will help get you, your baby, and your pregnancy off to a wonderful start! I hope this provides value to you as you navigate this amazing journey!

Step 1: Breath

Congratulations! You are pregnant and it is the biggest blessing of your life! But 9 months is a long time away! You don’t have to have it all figured out at this moment. Talk to any parent- we never have it all figured out, so join the club! Take a breath. Say a prayer. Be thankful. Entrust your worries and emotions to God and rest in the fact that you are a mother and you are fully equipped for this.

Step 2: Call Your Doctor

Even though your first appointment probably won’t be for another 8-12 weeks (see what I mean when I say you have time?) it is important to give your clinic a call and tell them that your pregnancy test came back positive and you would like to schedule your first OB appointment. They will walk you through their protocol from there!

Step 3: Make Some Healthy Changes

Even though your first appointment isn’t for a while, you will want to protect and nourish your baby during this first trimester. Your baby will be experiencing the most crucial developmental stages over the next 12 weeks and there are plenty of ways for you to help him or her have the best start to life! Here are a few important things to adjust if you haven’t already:

Prenatal Vitamins

If you’re not already taking them, be sure to get some prenatal vitamins. Folic Acid is crucial for baby’s development and Vitamin B6 helps with morning sickness! Look for vitamins that have both of these in them!

Eliminate Toxins

Did you know that your baby still gets exposed to toxins, even inside the womb? Harmful chemicals and toxins can pose a real threat to a developing baby- so try to stay clear of harsh chemicals found in every day household items like cleaning supplies and personal care products. Check out our non-toxic clean living items we offer and snag your $10 off promo code here to make this process easy and worry free!

Easily eliminate harmful toxins from your home while saving 15% and getting free 3 day shipping with this Daily Home Collection Package!

Eat Healthy (if possible)

Battling morning sickness, food aversions, and food cravings (oftentimes for food that isn’t the healthiest option!) can make it hard to follow a nutritious diet.

The key: Do you best! If you can add some fruit or veggies to your diet, then try to do so! If you can add a healthy snack like cheese sticks and healthy crackers instead of pop or donuts, try to do that! Do what you can, stay away from processed food as much as possible, and realize that at the end of the day, you need to survive- so if pop tarts are the only thing you can eat without throwing up, so be it!

Step 4: Be Active

Moving and staying active during your pregnancy will not only greatly contribute to your health and your baby’s health, but it also will help with morning sickness! Again, the key is to do what you can. If you already were working out and in great shape- keep it up! Stay hydrated, be careful and continue to work towards your health goals.

If you aren’t active, start walking, stretching or try pregnancy yoga! Listen to your body. Stay hydrated and eat enough to replenish your body and muscles. Do what you can with what you have and try to be active everyday- even if you have to adjust what you do based on how you feel. It will pay off greatly!

Conclusion

There are a lot of things to consider when having a baby, but the most important thing right now is YOU and the amazing life that is inside you! Put your health first, rejoice in this blessing that so many women pray for and aren’t able to have, and trust God with the rest!

Know also that you are not alone- if you don’t have a supportive family environment, there are plenty of groups and resources available that can help you navigate and get off to a great start! Check out more on this blog for healthy pregnancy tips, overall clean living, and emotional and spiritual support!

For more in depth information on pregnancy, labor & delivery, and beyond, check out this amazing resource:

https://pearently.mykajabi.com/a/13650/tNjS7qQF

I hope this post provided value to you and I wish you the very best in your pregnancy! Stay tuned for more in this series on pregnancy and motherhood!