Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Mattress Rabbit Hole | Adventures In Mattress Buying

In 2013 Cody and I bought a Sleep Number bed.  He was all for it, I thought it seemed like an overpriced air mattress, but if it would help us sleep better at night, why not?  Our previous bed was an extremely uncomfortable (and old) inner spring mattress.

I liked it at first, but that didn't last long.  As I got more and more pregnant the winter, the more uncomfortable it became.  Turns out, being able to control our own comfort levels wasn't all it was cracked up to be.  Then, once Calla came and discovered she enjoyed sleeping between us, the queen size of the bed became constricting.

So here I am, pregnant, with a 6'4" husband and growing toddler still in our bed most nights.  We need a change!

I decided this time to REALLY research the bed before buying.  Which has basically led me down a rabbit hole of mattress research.  Every time I think I'd made up my mind, something else pops up or a friend recommends something else, and I'm back to the drawing board.  I've flopped back and forth and up and down so many times.  Without an actual mattress store to go to and try thing out, I'm at the mercy of online reviews.  And there's a lot of them.  Sometimes, it's hard to tell how legit they are.

Leesa, Purple, Loom & Leaf, Tuft & Needle, Brooklyn Bedding, Dromma, Brentwood, Zinus, Perfect Cloud, Classic Brands... seriously.  There are so many GREAT brands out there that I can't decide between them.  But I think I at least have it narrowed down to those brands.  Now to figure out how the heck to choose between them.

Sure, most have a really great return policy (usually 75-100 days, even up to 200 days), where you can try them out and see if you like them.  If you don't, you get your money back and the bed is returned for free.  Which sounds awesome, but that does mean the hassle of returning the bed if you aren't satisfied and not having a bed for a week or so while the process goes through.  I'd like to make the decision right the first time.

So, how did YOU choose your mattress?  Are you happy?  Not happy?  I just want a NICE, COMFORTABLE bed.  Eco-friendly is of course a huge bonus.  Low priced, as well.  Why does it have to be so hard!?

The search will continue for at least a week.  I don't want to make a mistake.  I'll update when I know more!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Baby #3 Onboard! | A Tale of Loss, Heartache, and Success

Bear and Calla are 19 months apart in age.  They were *supposed* to be 20 months, but Calla made her appearance a bit early, as you know.  But, I love the age difference.  They play together, get along, and she isn't too far behind Bear developmentally that she can't keep up with him.  The school we hope to send them to has combined classrooms, so every other year they will be in the same grade.  I like that idea.

So when it came time to planning for baby #3, which we've always known we wanted at least 4 kids, I thought it would be great to have that 19-20 month spacing again.  So a few months before that needed to happen we started preparing to conceive.

Vitex and Red Raspberry Leaf have always been my fertility go-tos.  I started the teas and tinctures, started trying to track my cycle, eating right, vitamins... the works.  But there was one tiny problem.


She was still nursing, and quite religiously, at 9 months old.  I still hadn't started my cycle.  Same at 10 months.  And 11 months.  It wasn't worth it to me to quit nursing her just to get my "ideal" age spacing, so we kept going and I just waited.

Then something crazy happened.  On Calla's first birthday, on March 2nd, I noticed nursing was a little more painful than usual.  Could have been in my head, but I remembered this being the first sign that I was pregnant last time.  So I took a pregnancy test.

It was positive!

We were elated that our 19/20 month age difference WASN'T out of the picture anymore.

Unfortunately, what I didn't know at that time, is that I had already lost the baby a few days earlier.  They call it a "missed miscarriage" when you miscarry but do not get the regular signs of a miscarriage.  I took a few more pregnancy tests and noticed they were getting lighter or staying the same, not darker like I was used to.  So I went to the doctor after the tests were negative for several days but I hadn't started bleeding.  The missed miscarriage was diagnosed (I was probably only 5-6 weeks along when I found out, having lost the baby just a few days before).  I waited two weeks, but nothing happened, so I took some horrible drugs and was done with it.

The doctor gave the all-clear to start trying again right away, since it was such an early loss.  We got pregnant the next cycle.

We lost that pregnancy, too.  Right around 4 weeks again.  That's normal, or at least mostly-normal, though.  Women have early losses all the time, most just don't know it because they happen prior to a missed period (commonly known in the TTC world as a chemical pregnancy).  I didn't think much of it.

Thinking I needed rest, and already past that dream 19/20 month age gap, we took a break for a cycle.  Then started again the next cycle and BAM!  Pregnant again!  This time I passed 4 weeks.  Even passed 5 weeks!  Then, 6 weeks came.  And it was over.

At this point I was frustrated and extremely sad.  Falling into a bit of a dark place.  I knew it was normal for a healthy couple to take 12 cycles to conceive a child, but we HAD conceived.  Several times.  So why weren't they sticking?  We weren't never far enough to do any sort of genetic testing, but with two healthy kids I couldn't imagine it was all because of genetic issues.  Maybe it was me?  I had the surgery to remove the fibroids, maybe there was more scar tissue than they'd thought there would be?  Maybe my progesterone levels were low.  After all, Calla came early (and tried coming earlier).  Maybe that's why that happened and why these losses were happening.

Without a specialist nearby, and a busy summer schedule, it was decided to try the most obvious approach- progesterone.  We started in my August cycle, but didn't conceive that cycle as I mentally wasn't prepared for another loss, and decided to wait.  Continued for the September cycle, and that time we got another BFP!

Only time would tell.  I waited.  4 weeks.  5 weeks.  6 weeks.  I passed them all by, still pregnant.  Finally at 7 weeks I went in for an ultrasound and we saw a single, healthy baby with a solid heartbeat.  I'd made it further than any other time, at least!

8 weeks.  9 weeks.  10 weeks.  11 weeks.  12 weeks.  All came and went- still pregnant!

I am not officially in my 2nd trimester and still have a healthy baby on board.  I've even started feeling kicks.  Sporadic and not strong enough to feel on the outside, but I know the baby is there.  And still healthy.

We didn't get our age difference again.  Calla is 20 months now.  That's OK.  Both kids seem excited and happy.  Bear keeps bouncing back and forth about whether he wants a brother or a sister.  Calla doesn't seem to understand the question yet, but gives the "new baby" kisses when prompted.  I'm sure she'll get it as time gets closer.

I am due in May.  The progesterone will accompany me through the pregnancy.  In a few weeks I will begin giving myself weekly shots.  Not excited for that, but worth it if I get a term baby.  Even more worth it if I get a full term baby!  May 24th is my due date, and if I see that day come and even go with an inside baby, I'll be beyond happy.

Right now, I'm just thrilled we made it this far.  13 weeks, 4 days and counting.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

And Time Slips By....

I had just gotten back into the groove of blogging when things went really downhill and then dramatically uphill in my life.  It's hard to explain how something that seemed so horrible at the time could turn into such a beautiful blessing.

I had a performance evaluation at work where I was told, basically, that I was spending too much time nursing and/or pumping for my daughter.  She was 7 months old and we had just learned she was very allergic to eggs (the hard way).  I refused to take less time to pump or to go home and feed her.  Two months later I had another evaluation where I was told, again, that I was taking too much time out of the work day to maintain my nursing relationship with my daughter.  I even offered to go hourly instead of salaried.  But, I was let go instead.

I was obviously devastated, but luckily we'd been pretty wise financially and I knew we'd be OK for a few months if I didn't find work right away.  Turns out, that wasn't even needed.  I was let go from my job on Tuesday and by Saturday I had a job offer.  For more money, even!

I have now been with this new company for five months and every day I can't believe how lucky I am to work there.  I went from an all-female management to a company owned by two men.  I was a little worried about pumping at work, but it turns out I wasn't the only breastfeeding mother and my bosses were fathers who understood.  They even put a lock on the conference room door my first week there so I could lock a door when I needed to pump.  I didn't even have to ask- they offered and had it installed right away.

It's an amazing place to work and I am now so relieved to be done with the toxic environment that was my old place of employment.  I love my bosses, my managers, and my co-workers.  I loved my co-workers and employees at my old job, but the management was a hot mess and very negative.  It's great to be done with that.

But with most changes in my life I found myself putting certain things on the back burner.  The blog was the first to be set aside.  I keep thinking I want to get back but time has been limited.  I will hopefully get some updates in here and there, but regular posting probably won't happen for a bit.  Sorry!

There are things to talk about, however!  I'm halfway through my Aromatherapy Certification program through Essence of Thyme College of Holistic Studies.  I also recently took an herbalist course from Gigi Stafne at Green Wisdom School of Natural and Botanic Medicine and Susan Weed at Well Woman University.  My aromatherapy and herbalism knowledge has grown and expanded and I have sooooo many things to share with you.

In due time.  Because, you know, time is short and the kids just woke up from their naps.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Becoming an Aromatherapist | How I Chose My School

I wrote a few months ago about my decision to start my journey to becoming a Certified Aroma Therapist.   This is the second post about becoming an aromatherapist out of many, I'm sure.  In this post I will tell you how I personally went about choosing my aromatherapy school.  Plus an update on how that is going!

Before I begin I want to make it clear that what was important to me may not be important to you.   If you are searching for a school right now you really need to sit down and make a list of your priorities and then begin your research based off your own priorities. 

Here is how I chose my school...

Type of Classroom
There are in person, online, and correspondence options when it comes to aromatherapy schools.  I love the idea of an in person classroom (and this is actually what I have chosen for going for my herbalist certification... more on that later!), but unfortunately there were no CA options in my area. 

Online is another great option, but knowing where I live I saw a flaw in that option.  We often lose internet here, sometimes for days on end.  I didn't want to have an important deadline or really be in the groove with my class and have to stop due to an outage.  Online is also not the best option for my style of learning.

I am a book person.  I want to open a book, read it, feel it, carry it with me, etc.  So I realized that a correspondence class was one that fit me best.  Although this wasn't a deal breaker for me, I would happily do an online class if it ended up being a good fit. 

Classroom Hours
Here's where I may differ from my American readers.  I wanted a Canadian course.  I live very close to the border and Canada tends to have stricter standards for CAs than America.  Although there is still no government regulation when it comes to education, Canadian organizations have created criteria that requires a bit more time and sections than American schools.  I know that if I ever decide to open a brick and mortar store in my town there's a good chance I'll have some Canadian clients.  If they know anything about CA's I wanted them to know that I have education that aligns with their standards, and possibly even join some Canadian organizations.

This isn't saying that American Standards aren't good, they are!  Canada just requires a little bit more.  I quickly realized that in order to become certified AND be able to list myself with a Canadian organization I was better off taking a Canadian class.  Some of the more popular American classes wouldn't give me the number of hours Canada requires, even if I took their advanced classes.

All this in mind I quickly narrowed my research down to Canadian schools that offered 300 hour 101 courses.

It's important to find someone you connect with, or at least someone you are comfortable working with.  I wanted an instructor who had ample years of experience in the aromatherapy field that they were able to teach based on their years of experience.  Someone who could answer questions I have not from reading from a book, but from pulling from their experiences.

I also wanted someone who was quick to reply to emails and took the time to answer the questions I had.  So when I had my choices narrowed down to two schools I emailed both the same list of questions and waited.  Then I sent a follow up email to see the response time on that and strongly considered this timing in my decision.

While I'd love to have endless funds and have the cost of a program not be a consideration in my decision, it was.  It was a BIG consideration.   It was also the reason that Canadian schools were so appealing to me.

You see, they charge about the same as American schools, but charge in Canadian dollars.  As an American I would pay in American dollars and benefit from the weak Canadian dollar in this transaction.  At the time I paid for my course I was able to save 30% on the cost.  So my $555 course only cost me about $400 after I paid for shipping and taxes.  That's not too bad considering it was a 300 hour course and many American schools charge twice that for half the amount of hours.

Those were my main criteria for choosing a school.  I then spent HOURS looking at website after website, mostly using the NAHA and AIA websites to find schools, and narrowed it down to two schools.  My email correspondence with them narrowed it down to my final choice. 

Colleen was quick to answer emails, offered a 300 hour 101 correspondence course, and charged in Canadian dollars.  Essence of Thyme checked every box for me.

I started the course in October and recently finished my midterm exam.  Being halfway through the course I can tell you that I am extremely happy with how things are going!  I am learning so much using a style that works for me.  I have even started taking on a few clients (actually required as part of the midterm!) and love created custom products.  So much so I even opened my own Etsy shop called the North Shore Apothecary.

I am not a certified aromatherapist... yet!  I am in line to finish my course in January or February next year.  Then I am taking an in-person Herbalism course to become a Certified Herbalist.  Once I complete that I will finish my aromatherapy degree with Colleen's 201 Course, which is an additional 300 hours for a total of 600 hours of education.  Then maybe I'll get my Master Herbalist certification.  And then I will really be looking to expand North Shore into something great... I hope! 

Stay tuned.  I'll update more on my Aromatherapy journey in a few months!

Monday, November 30, 2015

And I'm Back!

What a whirlwind these last couple of weeks have been!  I am happy to report that my trip to California went great and I am now back in possession of the majority of my belongings.  I do not have my dogs yet, but they have a ride arranged and should be here later this week!  Things are finally falling into place and I'm starting to feel more settled here.

Then we got the results back from Calla's allergy appointment.  She is indeed allergic to eggs.  Egg whites, to be specific (she doesn't not appear to react at all to egg yolks).  I was dreading this news initially, but having been avoiding eggs for almost two months now I'm realizing it's not as hard as I thought.  The doctor recommended we try one food that had eggs baked into it, so we tried pancakes and she had no reaction.  She's since had pancakes three other times with still no reactions.  We still need to avoid food that are primarily egg (and no flu shot), but if it's just one ingredient of many it seems she can tolerate it.  This week we will try another food with egg in it and see how it goes.  The doom and gloom we were first experiencing when this happened has worn off quite a bit and everything seems manageable now.  So that's very good news!

Otherwise things have finally calmed down around here quite a bit.  I'm home, unpacked, back at work, and my baby girl is healthy.  I couldn't ask for more.  :)

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Crazy Little Thing Called Life | Calla Update

It's been over three weeks now and I still remember every detail of this day.  Easily the scariest day of my life.  The day I thought I might lose my baby girl.

It was Thursday.   My mom was up for a visit so we decided to take the kids out to breakfast. 

Although she had just turned 7 months we hadn't really started feeding solids yet.  Calla would get bites of her brother's food (courtesy of her brother, of course!) and occasionally we'd let her taste our food, but I'd had a traumatic experience with the first time Bear ever ate solids, so I wasn't in any rush to start Calla on them.  But, like I said, she'd nibble here and there.

So there we were.  At breakfast.  I ordered french toast, eggs, and bacon.  I got Bear toast, sausage, and eggs.  This restaurant doesn't have little kid seats so Calla was in her car seat, but I had unstrapped her so she could sit up.  I had her nestled next tome on the booth. 

From where she sat she could reach my food and Bears.

So I let her grab and play with our food.  She didn't really eat anything, just put some things in her mouth, spit it out, then picked up something else and played with that.  I didn't even think she actually ate anything.

As we were leaving I turned her to put her back in her car seat and strap her in, and that's when I saw her face.  She was a little swollen and had red bumps around her mouth and chin.  I remember thinking it was weird, but thought it was from wiping her runny nose with wipes all day.

We put her in the car and drove a mile home.  Along the way I noticed she started sounding a little wheezy.  But, she had a cold.  So, again, I didn't really think too much of it.

My husband called and needed a ride home from work so I left and went to get him.  8 minutes.  That's how long it took to get my husband from work.  When I returned my mom was standing in the entry way, holding my baby girl. 

She was covered in hives and struggling to breath.

On the drive to the ER, which is only 2 miles from my house, I was hearing her wheezing in her car seat.  At one point the wheezing stopped.  I had my mom go back and see if she was still breathing.  I thought for sure she'd stopped.

She was still breathing... but struggling.

Three hours later she was hive free, breathing fine, her blood pressure had returned to normal, and we were being told this was an Anaphylaxic allergic reaction, likely to some of the food she was playing with at breakfast.

She didn't even eat anything!  Not really...

This bad of a reaction and she didn't even eat it.

We met with an allergy specialist last week and he gave us the doom and gloom news that since her first attack was that bad it's possible her second could be worse.   He suspects the eggs to be the culprit, but is testing for soy, wheat, dairy, and a few other things, just to be sure.  We still won't know for a while what she's allergic to and how bad it really is.  It cold have also been environmental- something within the restaurant that caused it. 

But, most likely, it's food.

Anyway, if you've been wondering where I've been the past couple of weeks, let's just say I've spent many hours in my kitchen reading the label on every food item we have.  Anything with eggs is gone.  Since it's bad enough that just contact with the food caused the reaction it all needed to go until we are sure. 

What's funny is that I never really took food allergies seriously.  Maybe because most people who say they have a food allergy really don't.  They might have an irritation or gastro-response to them, but it's not a real allergy.  I have never before seen a real allergic reaction until that day.

They are frightening.  And they are serious.  And I have no idea how to deal with it.

But I'll learn.

I'm going on vacation to California for some work and to retrieve some belongings we left behind when we moved to Minnesota.  So if you don't hear from me for a bit, that's why.  I plan to keep on with the blog as soon as I return and have some BIG NEWS to share in the aromatherapy front!  Of course, I will also update on Calla's situation when I have more news. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Photography | Utlimate Digital Photography Bundles Flash Sale

Did you miss the Ultimate Photography Bundles earlier this year?  Well you can buy the bundles TODAY!!!  Check it out.  Starting at only $37 and includes products, classes, and other deals.