Saturday at the Simke’s

I love, love, love SATURDAYS! Mostly because it’s time for I, my Babes, and our kids to just be present and enjoy each other’s presence. We aren’t rushing through breakfast, hurriedly getting dressed, and dashing to the car.

On Saturdays, we take it easy.

On Saturdays, we usually do a variety of the same things.

We typically we make a big breakfast. Today’s menu included yummy vegan blueberry pancakes.

An active outdoor family outing is also included in our Sabbath regime.

Last weekend we did our first family run/bike ride/carriage ride. I am so proud of my Aiden Jo for riding his bike 3 miles! What a champ. Lil enjoyed lounging as she cruised along.

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Most summer weekends include swimming at the pool.

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All Saturdays include naps. Ahhhh naps. During Lil’s nap time today, Daddy and I fell asleep on the couch while Aiden played in his room quietly.

Our family is very musical. I happen to have the talent of music appreciation, while Babes and the kiddos jam. We enjoy worshipping together. Today’s band attire was simply bottoms…with lots of laundry on stage.

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We read a LOT on Saturdays (and every day). This is my personal favorite way to unwind, and the love has passed along to both my children.

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Good food is a must for our foodie family. This Saturday’s lunch was leftover lentil soup and a Vega/açai smoothie. Chipotle for dinner, to be followed by the best vegan cookies ever.

My favorite way to end a Saturday is on the couch chatting with my Babes.

How do you and your family like to spend your Saturdays, Mama?

 

 

What’s In Your Labor Bag? (Pregnancy Series Part 3)

Deciding where you give birth is an important and personal decision. Whether at your home, birthing center, or hospital, you need to be prepared with a labor bag! Here’s my top ten things to have in your labor bag, with some bonus items.

  1. Snacks: Can you imagine running a marathon and never eating or hydrating yourself? My labors from start to finish were an average of 14.5 hours. I am so thankful I had some nutrition to keep me going! While I didn’t want to eat a huge meal, I did snack a lot and often, especially early on to give me energy. I found having nuts, bars, smoothies, honey sticks, banana and peanut butter and other high protein goodies on hand to be helpful. Technically you aren’t allowed to eat or drink once you enter the hospital, so make sure you fuel up before you leave home! Having a few munchies packed in your bag can be helpful for the ride if your destination is away from home.
  2. Drinks: Drink up, Mama! You need to stay hydrated for yourself and baby! Water in a bottle with a straw was easy access for me to sip in between contractions. I also craved Coconut water in labor!
  3. Essential Oils: I love me some calming lavender. Putting a few drops in the diffuser helped soothe the environment and made it smell yummy! Clary sage is known to help induce labor, so be cautious in using this essential oil until its close to your due date!
  4. Tunes and Headphones: I got in the birthing zone pretty quickly with both babies…and stayed there for the majority of my labor. Having some good tunes to listen to helped me focus. I love, love, love Childbirth in the Glory soundtrack! This is a series of instrumental music and speaking life over Mama, baby, and the birthing process. If you haven’t downloaded it yet, do it right now! I listened to it the week before I gave birth and wish I had it sooner.
  5. Clothing for Mama: Comfy clothes for Mama during the early stages of labor. But let’s keep it real, those clothes get stripped off quickly when it gets intense. I liked wearing a bathing suit top for my first birth when I used a birthing tub. Nursing bras, flip flops for shower, and a cute comfortable outfit to go home in. Key word here is comfort. You aren’t going to squeeze back into your pre pregnancy clothes right away, so keep things loose and airy.
  6. Robe: This item of clothing gets it own category. I didn’t have a robe with my first birth, and I wish I did! I walked around with a blanket wrapped around me, so silly! I bought this super cute robe from TJMaxx and continue to use it. This is great for immediately after giving birth, because you can keep baby skin to skin without you or baby getting chilled.                                      IMG_4860.jpeg
  7. Big Undies/Depends and Pads: Let’s be real, Mama. Your female part down there goes through trauma while giving birth. It needs to heal, and can’t do that with tight panties or a thong. I purchased undies a size larger than I would normally wear, along with (ahem) depends. I am not ashamed to admit it. You will bleed after giving birth Mama, as your body just did something so miraculous, you brought a baby into the world! From my experience, I wore depends the first couple days and then switched to pads with the bigger undies until the bleeding stopped around 4-6 weeks post pardum.
  8. Baby stuff: Baby clothes, newborn diapers, wipes. The hospital provides a lot of these things, but if you are delivering at a birthing center or at home, you want to be stocked up. Also, if you plan on taking newborn photos, be sure to have those cute outfits ready!
  9. Toxic free toiletries for Baby and Mama: I didn’t give either of my kiddos a bath until they were at least a week old. I rubbed their vernix in and let their baby skin soak it up. However, I did thoroughly enjoy a quick shower after giving birth. My friends say it’s nice to have their toiletries on hand if they are away from home. I use Pure Haven* toiletries for myself, and they have a fantastic baby line. Currently I use Earth Mama Angel Baby body wash and lotion for my kiddos.
  10. Nursing Pillow: I used a nursing pillow early on, and eventually graduated to not needing it. This was also a helpful tool when my son wanted to hold his baby sister. Aren’t they the cutest?                                        IMG_5005.jpeg

Hospital Bonus Items:

Motrin and Colace stool softener. The hospital will overcharge you for everything. Bringing these items could save you a couple hundred dollars. You might want motrin for pain, because, you might experience a little pain after giving birth. And Colace stool softener because, you need to poop eventually. Subconsciously I did NOT want anything else coming out of me after I gave birth with my second child. When my midwife asked me if I had pooped 24 hours later, she recommended taking something if I didn’t drop a deuce in the next few hours. Thankfully nature took it’s course without any assistance.

Home birth Bonus Items:

Padsickles, peri bottle, and sitz bath. You can make your own padsickles by freezing witch hazel onto pads. Ahhhh relief. Prior to giving birth, I purchased sitz bath and had my husband brew it up and put a big batch in a pitcher in the fridge. I kept the sitz bath in peri bottles in every bathroom. Whenever I did any kind of business on the toilet, I would squirt some down there and it helped ease the tenderness.

That’s my top ten with a few bonus items. What was in your labor bag, Mama?

*Pure Haven is a toxic free company that produces house-hold cleaning products and toiletries that vary from toothpaste to skincare items. I am currently a consultant for Pure Haven. If you are interested in their products, feel free to contact me. http://purehaven.com/
This post contains affiliate links. 

What Makes You Squeal

Whenever my son Aiden takes a bite of something so yummy and delicious, he gets this goofy grin on his face and let’s out the HUGEST happy sound. A squeal of delight. He had gotten in the habit of doing it multiple times, and I thought to myself, “Where did he learn to do THAT?”

Oh….he learned that from me!

You don’t have to know me for very long before you discover I let off squeals when I’m excited. When I see someone I haven’t in a long time, I can’t help but give them a great big squeeze accompanied by my trademark noise of bliss.

Multiple months ago, a friend of mine shared a book she was recently reading, “Grace Not Perfection” by Emily Ley. I confess, I haven’t read it, yet. Buuuuut our conversation and my son’s squeals have gotten me thinking. What things do I delight in?

I enjoy…

the quietness of the early morning

the beach

long runs

a great workout

facemasks

pedicures

yummy healthy food paired with dark chocolate

new book releases by my favorite authors

I could go on…the author sheds light on the reality of motherhood. Sometimes we get lost in the diaper changes, night feedings, laundry,…or we get caught up what our children need, want, like/dislike. And we forget who we are. What do we like?

Today, I challenge you to answer the question, “What makes you squeal, Mama?”

It could be as simple as mango lipgloss.

Jot down a few things and set aside some time for yourself this weekend. Take delight and remember who you were created to be.

Speaking Life

Growing up, I had a Daddy and a Mama who consistently spoke life over me. I grew up knowing that I was loved, I was a blessing, and that God had good plans for me. I had a strong sense of purpose, not just for my own means, but because I knew God had good plans for me to carry out His kingdom purposes.

Speaking life starts in the very beginning. Way back in Genesis, God, the Creator of the universe, chose to use His voice and words to create. God said “Let there be light,” and there was. He spoke the planets, the land and sea, the moon and stars, every creature you could imagine, and humans into existence. He said “Let there be,” and then, there it was.

When God speaks, it matters. When we speak, our words also matter. The words that come out of our mouth have power.

In Proverbs 18:21, it says “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”

We have a choice of the words we use- will we use words that edify, encourage, and create? Or will we use words that tear down, discourage, and destroy?

In James 3, the tongue is compared to a small spark that can set a whole forest on fire. That’s a lot of power!

I want to share three ways I’ve learned to speak life.

The first way to speak life is over yourself (myself).

In this season of life, I often speak that God has equipped me for being a Mama, that I am a Proverbs 31 woman who is noble, honorable, charitable, resourceful, kind, diligent, hard working…this is the woman I am, and the woman I am becoming.

The second way you can speak life is over others. When my children were in my womb, we spoke that they would be a joy and delight to all who interact with them. If you’ve met them, you know this has come to pass. We spoke health and completeness over each and every body part.

We are currently speaking a generous and hospitable heart over my son as he learns to share, and kindness and gentleness as he interacts with his sister. We eagerly await the day we see the fullness of these statements come to be. We speak healing and full hearing at all decibels over my eleven month old as she is currently wearing hearing aids.

As parents, we have the opportunity to pass on a generational blessing of speaking God’s word over our children’s lives.

Can you imagine what the next generation would look life if they grew up believing that they can never be separated from the love of God, they are established, anointed and sealed by God, they are God’s workmanship, and they can do all things thought Christ who gives them strength? They just might take cities and nations for Jesus!

As part of the body of Christ, we get to encourage each other by speaking truth. Speaking verses like: “You are the salt of the earth,” (Matthew 5:13), “You are Christ’s ambassador,” (2 Corinthians 5:20) and “You are chosen by God, holy and dearly loved,” (Col. 3:12) are good reminders we need to tell each other. This is who others are, and who they are becoming.

The third way you can speak life is over your circumstances. When my family moved back to Florida in 2014, we came as an act of faith. Derek had no job yet, but we were believing In Jehovah Jirah our provider. We would daily claim the Lord’s provision of a job, specific with what salary and benefits we needed to survive in Palm Beach County. After two months of doing this daily activity, we saw God meet everything we specified.

When my family was in a time of need a few years ago, I reminded myself (and the Lord) about His faithfulness to always provide for my us. I was claiming Philippians 4:19, that ALL my needs are met by God. The Holy Spirit whispered, “Look around, Christina! Don’t overlook what I have provided for you in this present moment.”

That’s the beauty of speaking truth and life. It does  change things for the future, but sometimes our perspective in the moment needs to be changed. Speaking out loud words of life and truth allows us to filter our personal circumstances through The Abba’s prism of truth.

This filter allows us to see ourselves as we are- men and women that God is bringing about to completion, finishing the good work that He began.

It allows us to see others as those deeply loved by God.

It allows us to see what God is already doing in our current circumstances.

In what areas of your life do you need to speak life today, Mama?

The Thousand Words Not In This Picture

“A picture is worth a thousand words,” is how the saying goes. Today I want to propose a different statement, “The thousand words not in this picture.”

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This picture captured a very brief moment of our Saturday this past weekend. I hesitated, as I often do, to post this picture on social media. Here’s why.

What’s not shown in this photo is…

Mama’s inability to find the tickets to the baseball game in her email inbox minutes before the game.

A hard fall on the sidewalk that led to dramatics by my (almost) four year old.

The tantrums due to not enough sleep.

The intense crying fit of an 8 month old going through a sleep regression (and teething!) on the 20 minute walk home from the game unfinished.

A frazzled Mama who didn’t use kind words and a kind tone when speaking to her husband.

Family friends who extended grace to our family in the midst of our messiness.

I personally find myself struggling to feel good about myself and my family when I waste my minutes scrolling through the news feed. How is it that everyone else has a perfect family, marriage, and kids who always listen and look cute? How do those other families afford to do fun outings every weekend and go on vacation? I often face feelings of  jealousy and insecurity after this futile exercise.

Here’s what I was reminded of this weekend. The pictures on social media are a brief moment, a blip in time.

This picture below is one of many attempts to capture a decent Christmas card photo in 2017. Let’s face it, kids don’t always want there photo taken.

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Now I am not saying that everyone should go on an Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter strike. I think when used appropriately, social media can serve a great purpose. The other side of the coin is, one could present themself as perfect on these platforms, creating an inaccurate picture of what’s going on outside the frame.

So, I propose a challenge. Post a picture that makes you feel vulnerable today. Maybe it’s you without makeup, or a house that’s cluttered. #mamaonarun and share it.

In what ways can you make yourself vulnerable on social media, Mamas?

 

Tree of Thanks

I hope you Mamas and your families had a “Happy Thanksgiving!” I love the time to sit around the table with friends and family and eat yummy food!

Wednesday night My son was sick with a 102° temperature and a yucky cough. To say the least, I was a bit anxious about what Thursday would hold for us. I had scheduled myself to teach online from 4:30-7:00 am. Thoughts of “Would my 5 month old daughter get sick? Would my son be up during the night? Would I get any sleep? Would we have to cancel our plans?” ran through my head simultaneously as I rested on my pillow.

Thankfully his temp broke in the middle of the night, and he slept well from midnight to 7 am. Lil never got sick, praise God! When I woke up Thursday morning, I found time to teach, run, shower, wash my hair (Mama win), clean…all with the help of my best Babes!

We have the pleasure of living near both my parents and my husband’s parents. (Can we say, “free babysitters?”) Thanksgiving is one of the many holidays we share, and this year we had it going on! This Mama did not have to cook, minus a side kale salad. I’m so thankful for my mom and mother-in-law who prepared the food for everyone!

Pre-kids, one thing I looked forward most after the Thanksgiving meal, was a nice long nap on the couch. This year, I and the kiddos both napped in the car in between celebrations. This is my typical fall-asleep-anywhere-anytime posture.

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As life gets fuller, I’m finding it’s so easy to get caught up in the going here and there and preparing for the holidays, that we forget to pause and take a moment to give thanks.

Every year since as far back as I can remember, we would each take turns and share our favorite thanksgiving food and one thing we were thankful for. This year, I decided to add a little something festive to our ritual.

I recently found this awesome resource: Tree of Thanks. Aiden helped me gather sticks and rocks to make our centerpiece. I traced and cut out some leaves with construction paper, and voila! An easy thanksgiving masterpiece was created. On the day of, I asked people to write what they were thankful for on a leaf and decorate the tree with it.

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How was your holiday, Mama? What are you thankful for? What food did you enjoy most?

I know it may sound cliche, but I am truly thankful for my family. And hands down, my Grandma Julie’s orange rolls are what I look forward to every year!