How To Save Money Part 2

how-to-save-money-today

Right now, for us, our bills are very few.

We don’t have a rent or mortgage, our house and land is completely paid for.

We don’t have car payments, our car is completely paid for. We have ZERO debt!

We have our own well, a deep artisan well, a large creek, and two springs on our land (one is a year round spring, the other is seasonal) so we do not have to pay for water, but we do have to pay for the electricity to operate the well pump and run water into the house. We have plans to get a hand pump installed in the future though, it’s uncomfortable feeling to be reliant on something as fickle as electricity for something as important as water. That project will be paid for using money from either our “prepper fund” or “projects fund”.

We have a septic system and do not have to pay for sewer. We do pay $20 a year for septic microbes that we use religiously, by doing this and by not flushing the toilet paper, our septic tank still hasn’t gotten full enough to require pumping yet. We also have plans to buy a composting toilet in the future, again using money from either our “prepper fund” or “projects fund” of course :)

The bills that we do have are:

Electricity: usually stays around $130, but it can as much as DOUBLE in winter using two space heaters, plus we use the clothes dryer a lot more often in winter which adds to the bill as well. We do have AC but it never really gets hot enough here in the summer for us to justify running it. We have all the usual big appliances like an electric oven, washer and dryer and one fridge. But we also know how to live without those things. I know how to hand wash clothing (I got PLENTY of practice with THAT during Derecho 2012 when we went 11 days without electricity!) and we have a clothesline that I use pretty regularly during the warm months, we also have several different means to cook without electricity and the ability to store food without electricity. A word about the fridge, most of the stuff that people store in a fridge doesn’t even need to be in there, things like most condiments, most drinks and even most veggies don’t NEED a fridge! Neither do eggs, which when you harvest them fresh from your own chickens will last a week or longer just sittin’ on the kitchen counter (however, I never eat eggs that are more than a day old, why should I when I don’t have to??…I also never drink milk that is more than 12 hours old, again why should I if I don’t have to?? When you grow your own you can afford to be a food snob :P ) and, because we eat seasonally, most of our veggies are stored in the garden until we use them. You don’t have to keep the fridge as cold as all the “experts” always recommend, I know that most say 40F but we keep ours in the 45F-50F range with no issue at all. We don’t keep meat in the fridge though except to thaw it out, all of our meat is either killed fresh on the homestead or bought fresh and used within 1-2 days max or, for longer term storage, it is either thrown into the freezer or canned.

Internet/Cell Phone: my husband has a cell phone with unlimited data and we have cellular internet with 10 gigs, all of this we get through Verizon and pay a sum total of $210 a month for all of it, we used to pay less than that but it recently went up, again. :roll: . This may seem like a lot, but it is necessary because we run an internet based business. The internet is also indispensable for entertainment purposes, buying things that we need (mostly from Amazon Prime and E-bay), researching different topics and gathering information on what is happening in the world, and, because we do not buy any sort of “official” curriculum, for homeschooling the children.

Netflix: $25 per month. We don’t have cable or satellite TV programming, we watch everything either on DVD or streamed over the internet.

Trash Pick-Up: like I said before, we pay for this all at once at the beginning of the year.

Human food and household items: we budget $400 a month and stick to it pretty religiously. But every six months, usually once in the spring and once in the fall, we order organic red spring wheat, organic brown basmati rice, organic pinto beans, organic lentils, organic thick rolled oats and Real Salt in bulk (in 25-50 lb. bags) which usually costs us around $200. We belong to a food co-op that is run by The Seventh Day Adventist Church in our local town and they order their stuff from Frankferd Farms in Pennsylvania. They also run a rather large thrift store that I have been shopping at for going on six years now and I buy the majority of our clothing from them, so they know me pretty well there and since we observe a Saturday Sabbath, same as them, we have things in common which have resulted in many interesting and edifying conversations with the ladies that volunteer there. However, we are NOT members of the church and have never even attended it, the co-op and thrift store are services that they provide to the community and I am so grateful for them!! :D When we lived in Maryland I shopped at a similar type thrift store, but it was owned and operated by a Lutheran Church. Also, every six months, usually in the summer and in the winter, I make a trip into “da big shitty” (as I like to call it ;) ) and shop at Sam’s Club where I stock up on business supplies for our E-bay business and other paper products like toilet paper and paper towels, also things like dirt cheap industrial strength dishwashing soap ($4.98/gal.) and laundry soap ($15 for 35 pounds) that I buy in bulk or white vinegar and baking soda for example that are a really good deal when purchased there, usually spending a grand total of about $200 for all of it. So, four months out of the year we spend $600 a month on human food and household items, but these extra expenditures are planned and budgeted for ahead of time so that it’s really no big deal :)

Animal Food (for the 20+ chickens, 4 goats, and 5 cats): $200 a month at the very most, including the price of hay which we have delivered once a month from a farm five miles down the street, but it is often A LOT less in the summer when there are plenty of wild green things for the chickens and goats to eat.

Gasoline: $35-$40 a month. Most people require gasoline to fuel their car so they can get to and from work everyday, but because we work from home we just don’t require much. We make trips into town (which is 30 miles away) only twice a month and once a week we take the kiddos to the nearest library which is 6 miles away and right down the street from a Family Dollar Store that just built about 8 months ago. We get the hay for the goats delivered once a month so no gas is used there, but we do make a once a month trip to the farm store (which is about 15 miles away) to buy a month’s worth of animal feed at a time. Another way that we save money is by doing ALL of our regular grocery shopping every month at Kroger, for every $100 you spend they give you 10 cents/gal. off the price of gasoline if you buy it at their pumps, we almost always save 30 cents/gal. and fill our gas tank up only once a month plus we get extra gasoline to run the chainsaw.

E-bay Fees: this is almost always our BIGGEST bill each month and it is dependent upon how much we did in sales, so it can range anywheres from just a couple hundred dollars to a couple THOUSAND dollars. This might seem like a lot but when you take into account the cost of having an actual physical store front versus selling online the fees are WAY LESS than what it would cost to operate a physical brick and mortar business thus enabling us to keep more of our money as profit :)

So, not counting the E-bay fees (which can vary pretty wildly) or trash pick-up or car insurance or property taxes (which we always pay for all at once at the beginning of the year, one less thing to deal with..), we require about $1400 a month to live and that is for a family of EIGHT! I got this number by adding up the grand yearly total according to the above numbers and then dividing that total by twelve and rounding up. So, $1400 is a liberal estimate, we could live on as little as $1000 a month if we really had to. We eventually plan to go off-grid, we’re already 75% of the way to that goal, so if we got rid of the electric bill we could live on even less.

Now I am going to talk about food some more because it is SO important an issue when it comes to living frugally. Remember, I have termed my particular brand of frugalness as “practical frugality”, the main reason I use this term is because I want to be frugal in ways that are practical and not just in the short term but also in the long term. When people want to be frugal the food budget is often the first to receive the most severe cut backs, as if living off Ramen Noodles forever is enough of a sacrifice to get you noticed by the money gods who will grant your money saving request :lol: But, in reality, it’s just plain stupid! You might be saving money in the short term but only at the expense of your health, which, if you continue the lifestyle, will cost you even more money in medical bills in the not too distant future.

As you age, this is one of the main ways that the system continues to suck power from you. You eat their nasty frankenfood and drink their nasty soda pop and develop chronic illness which they then give you pharmaceutical drugs and other treatments to “fix” but nothing ever really heals because most things that we call “chronic illness” are really just severe forms of malnutrition and the drugs are designed to mask your symptoms (which, btw, is your body’s way of tell you that something is WRONG!) so that you can feel well enough to continue work in your wage slave job. After all, they gotta make sure that you at least make it to age 65 to get the best return on their investment, like cattle in an industrial slaughterhouse fed just well enough to keep them alive until butchering time. They don’t care about you! Let me repeat that: They DON’T CARE About You!! You’re simply the battery that powers their system and, when the time is right, you will be disposed of with the same disinterest that a Duracell D-Cell is tossed into the trash.

I’ll say it again: They.Don’t.Care.About.You.

russian-nesting-dollsI have my own theory on nutrition which I’ve written about before, I call it “The Russian Nesting Doll Theory Of Nutrition”.

Imagine yourself and all the many facets of yourself and your body as little russian nesting dolls.  Like the dolls inside of dolls, each doll should be seen as a whole in relation to all the others.  The smallest doll, lets say, represents the whole of nutrition…from the proper preparation of the soil, through the harvesting, handling, processing, and marketing of food; the careful selections which make it possible for each of the body requirements to be fully met; the precise and proper preparation and the gracious serving of that food; the pleasantness and relaxation necessary to assure digestion and full absorption of nutrients; and other factors which can be controlled to prevent destruction of nutrients in the body (things like limiting sugar and sprouting seeds to neutralize phytic acid for example) and the subsequent losses through the excreta.

The next larger doll might symbolize the body as a whole, all of it’s parts and organs functioning cooperatively and in harmony with each other.  Health is not simply just one part of the body, not something outside it to which we must attain, instead it is the cumulative effect of every cell in the body functioning in a right and normal manner.  Whether recognized by the mainstream medical community or not, disease is not simply one part of the body but exists in every body cell.  If the cells don’t have what they need to be healthy the logical result will always be disease, whether it be communicable disease (like the common cold) or a diseases of malnutrition (like heart disease or cancer).

The third doll would symbolize the needs of the body as a whole…such as love, worthiness, peace of mind, psychological adjustment, relaxation, and personal recognition as well as the needs of the physical body such as exercise, sleep, fresh air, sunshine, and warmth.

The fourth doll would represent the individual in relation to his environment; family, friends, work, hobbies, and recreation.  And the largest and final doll would be representative of the individual’s personal philosophy, religion, convictions, ethics, prejudices and morals…which, in turn, would determine the part that he/she plays in the world.  In order for the largest “doll” to function rightly all the other “dolls” within it must also be in good working order…nutrition, when seen in this light, is still a small part of the whole; yet it remains the most VITAL part.

What you do, know, and believe is almost entirely dependent upon the state of the body…if you are sickly because of poor nutrition (and this is the state of the majority of the population) work will seem like drudgery, you won’t have any energy for hobbies and you would care less about anything having to do with philosophy or religion or morals because you would hate your life and therefore hate God.  It’s difficult to think in a “higher consciousness” type way (choosing the Love Filled Spirit response/reaction over the Fleshly Fallen Human response/reaction) when your body is beaten down and sickly…this is the overall reason why they tamper with the food supply, making things that should not be so… abominations like corn or soybean oil, high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, and all the crops that have been genetically tampered with in the name of the Almighty Dollar (their god)…we were never meant to eat these…these foods make us SICK, and on top of that they give us pharmaceuticals in the name of “making us well” which just makes us sicker,  and sickly people are easier to control.

I personally categorize food according to two values: Nutrition per dollar and Calories per dollar.  First, all foods containing things like soybean oil, canola oil, safflower oil, vegetable oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, trans fats (listed as “partially hydrogenated” on the ingredient list) or high fructose corn syrup are automatically eliminated.  For the most part, I do not buy foods that contain these ingredients.  As I said before meat and protein products, like eggs and milk products, almost always contain more nutrition than fruits, veggies and grains.  Don’t believe me?  Then, check out and compare the nutritional analysis of 1 apple, 1 egg and 1 potato.

Nutrition Analysis of 1 medium apple:

Vitamin A
1
%
Calcium
1
%
Vitamin D
0
%
Thiamin
2
%
Niacin
1
%
Vitamin B6
3
%
Phosphorus
2
%
Selenium
0
%
Vitamin C
11
%
Iron
1
%
Vitamin E
1
%
Riboflavin
2
%
Vitamin B12
0
%
Manganese
2
%
Copper
2
%
Magnesium
2
%
Zinc
0
%

Nutritional Analysis of 1 large egg:

Vitamin A
5
%
Calcium
3
%
Vitamin D
4
%
Thiamin
2
%
Niacin
0
%
Vitamin B6
4
%
Phosphorus
10
%
Selenium
23
%
Vitamin C
0
%
Iron
5
%
Vitamin E
2
%
Riboflavin
14
%
Vitamin B12
11
%
Manganese
1
%
Copper
3
%
Magnesium
2
%
Zinc
4
%

Nutritional Analysis of 1 medium potato:

Vitamin A
0
%
Calcium
3
%
Vitamin D
0
%
Thiamin
12
%
Niacin
11
%
Vitamin B6
37
%
Phosphorus
12
%
Selenium
1
%
Vitamin C
20
%
Iron
10
%
Vitamin E
0
%
Riboflavin
4
%
Vitamin B12
0
%
Manganese
17
%
Copper
11
%
Magnesium
12
%
Zinc
4
%

Now if you took an egg, an apple, and a potato and sat them in front of a random person and asked them to point to the one that is most nutritious, odds are they would most likely point to the apple because that is what they have always been brainwashed to believe…I mean, apples are healthy right? RIGHT?!  But not when you look at the nutritional analysis, the egg and the potato BOTH have FAR MORE nutrition than the apple.  And  if you look even closer you’ll see that, nutrition-wise, the egg and potato compliment each other, this is why fried eggs and potatoes (eggs fried in butter and potatoes fried in refined coconut oil) are our main breakfast meal…easily grown, easily prepared and easily eaten! :D

You can do this with ANY meat and with ANY fruit or vegetable and almost always the meat/protein will have more nutrition, the only instance where this isn’t always true is with fish, which is the least nutritious of the meats…funny how that one is always being promoted as nutritious as well, huh?  If I was a conspiracy theorist, I’d say it almost seems like the diet dictocrats purposefully promote that which is LEAST nutritious, but why?  And do YOU have the guts to answer that question for yourself?

This is why I center our diet around meat and protein with vegetables and sprouted or fermented grains being second.  All of those grains that I mentioned before, that I buy in bulk, I routinely sprout them before cooking (other than the oats which I ferment before cooking) because once sprouted the seed is no longer a “grain” but now a baby plant, doing this eliminates most of the bad stuff in the grain, even things like gluten are partially broken down, and it increases by many-fold all the GOOD THINGS found in the seed!  Not too mention, these things are CHEAP!  …buying the organic version in bulk only costs me around $1.30/pound on average.

There WILL be a part 3 as I have the time, so stay tuned for that!

 

How To Save Money

keep-calm-and-do-your-budget

First of all, a bit of a disclaimer, this is not your average “how to save a buck” faux frugality article. This is extreme frugality or, better yet, what I have personally termed “practical frugality” that takes into account both the short term and long term scope of not only living within one’s means in the present but gradually over time reducing one’s need for money overall. I have a unique perspective, that of a stay at home mom who is also a homesteader pursuing a more sustainable and self-reliant lifestyle, which allows me more freedom than the average city dwelling wage slave in implementing a wide variety of strategies in the quest to reduce my need for money. I have written this article for people who are like me or on the road towards a similar goal.

The first rule of how to save money is to not spend money, even if you “think” you need to spend money, don’t spend money. PERIOD. I know that sounds ridiculously simple but once you have a deeper understanding of what exactly money is and what exactly you are doing when you spend it, it might be easier to refrain or, at the very least, be more discerning in how you spend your money.

Money, in our society, in it’s most basic form is a symbol of your labor. Your actual energy and time taken from your life is exchanged at a certain rate (your wage) for what we call money. It’s life-force converted into an easily transferable mode of exchange and this force is the power that runs the world. If you’re working for $10/hr. and buy a $10 shirt you just traded 1 hour of your life for that shirt..was it worth it? How about for a $5 fancy coffee? You just traded 30 minutes of your life for it…was it worth it? Or, for the stay at home moms, you really think that $50 new kitchen appliance will make your life easier but you just traded 5 hours of your husband’s life to make your own life easier…was it worth it? It really puts the constant spending of money into a different light when you look at it that way doesn’t it? :)

Foundationally, money is one of the main ways by which you can and continually DO influence the world around you. You’re like a battery, and when you spend money the people who run the companies that you give it to are receiving power from you and who exactly are you empowering? And what will they use their power for? In a very real sense you CAN decide who runs the world by simply being discerning in how you spend your money. It’s quite simple: Give your power (money) to the people you wish to support.

Money in and of itself is NOT inherently evil. I know that among certain christian circles it is fashionable to be poor (as if you get extra “brownie points” with God or something :roll: ) using it as a mask to cover up certain character flaws such as laziness or lack of discipline and self-control which is, more often than not, the REAL reason for their poverty. However, Jesus very specifically said that the LOVE of money is the root of all evil! Having money and spending money, using it as the tool that it is, is not evil but loving it IS evil. I don’t love money, I actually HATE it, which is why I work as hard as I do to reduce my need for it and to mitigate as much as possible the power it has to harm me and my family by lack of it. I hate how society uses money, the having and the not having of it, to control the people. They make it practically impossible to live without it, even if you wished to opt out of the system entirely and live on a little plot of land providing the majority of your own needs you’d still have to find a way to make some money in order to pay your property taxes! It’s ludicrous and, sadly, it is also by design, you’re the battery that powers their system and the LAST THING they want is people opting out!

So, how do we achieve this balance? How do we reduce our need for money while, at the same time, having money enough to cover our needs and to prepare for unforeseeable calamities or disasters?

My husband and I have been selling on E-bay since 2003, at first it was part time while my husband still worked outside the home and we were saving money to buy our first house. Then, in the fall of 2005, when we bought our first house and moved from Maryland to West Virginia we went full time and, 10 years later, our E-bay sales are still our primary source of income. As you might expect, being an E-bay seller is not exactly the most stable source of income :lol: . We sell mostly video games so there are times, like during the holiday shopping season, when the money is just ROLLING IN! And then there are other times, like in September and October when all the kids first go back to school, that our video game sales drop off sharply and were lucky to even make a profit at all in those months. So, we’ve learned, out of necessity, an age old lesson that is really just plain common sense: In times of plenty, prepare for the inevitable famine. Fortunately, this also goes directly hand in hand with our homesteading/self-reliance/prepper/survivalist lifestyle :D

All of the laws of the universe tend to operate around this “boom-bust cycle”. You have summer and then winter ALWAYS inevitably follows, there is NO stopping it! And how you prepare during the summer months (the boom cycle) determines whether or not you will make it through the winter months (the bust cycle). Most people, however, spend the summer months on vacation, lying on their backs in the sunshine with nary a care in the world. Then, when winter arrives, and they can’t buy food and they can’t heat their house ’cause they didn’t save during the summer months, they go a runnin’ to big mommy government with wide open mouths, like baby birds in the nest, expecting to be fed.

That’s why the first rule is: Don’t spend money. And the second part to that rule is: Instead, save that money for when you TRULY need it!

And what are your basic NEEDS?

First, you have oxygen, without it you may survive about 7 minutes but fortunately it’s still free (for now, but if they can find a way to make you pay for it, mark my word, they will!).

Next, you have water, without it you may survive about 3 days and most people in our society have to pay for it, they also pay for the water that is used to flush their waste away into the sewer. The easiest way for most people to buy water, in our society, is to receive it through “the tap” that runs into their home for which most people are paying either a rent or mortgage to live in, which makes shelter just as important as water.

So, you have oxygen first, then water/sewer and shelter together, and next comes food.

How long you can live without food varies greatly from person to person depending on how much extra fat they have stored on their body, which for the average american is quite a bit! :lol: Now unless you plan to eat at a restaurant for every meal or make a trip to the grocery store everyday you need someplace to store food, which would be your shelter. You also need some way of storing it so that it doesn’t go bad very quickly and some way to cook it. For most people, in our american society, this would be accomplished by using a fridge and a oven which, for most people, requires electricity and you need to be living in a home to have access to the electricity needed so you can store and cook your food. The majority of people in our society also require electricity to heat and cool their home.

Unless you are growing all your own food, you also need transportation to get that food to your house and, unless you work from home, you need transportation to get to your job to trade your life force (your labor) for money to buy the things you need to live. For most people this means owning an automobile of some kind, if you live in a city then you can probably get by with public transportation, you can also walk everywhere if you really have too but if it’s more than just two or three miles you have to seriously consider then how your time is being used. Those extra hours a day spent walking, other than making you more physically fit, are basically wasted hours that could be better used growing a garden or tending livestock (if you have the land for it) or possibly pursuing a secondary source of income, like selling on E-bay for example.

Not having transportation also limits other options. For example, it would be very hard to set up an adequate food storage system without the ability to buy and transport large amounts of food to your home. What if the grocery store is running that twice a year $1 each awesome sale on canned chili (which is an excellent storeable food btw) and you wanna buy 50 cans for your food storage? While you can transport it home by walking, it won’t be easy and maybe not even be worth it for the time spent. I suppose you might be able to get a ride with somebody but that isn’t reliable and plus they’ll probably be asking all sorts of stupid nosy questions, like “why in the world are you buying 50 cans of chili?!” (now for some people that might not be a big deal, but I HATE having to explain myself to others, just mind your own damn business!).

It also limits heating options. If you live in an area with bad winters it is not wise to rely on electricity as your sole source of heat, the first bad snow or ice storm and ZAP! it’s gone! and you freeze to death! – or, at the very least, you have a very miserable time trying to keep warm :lol: Having a source of heat, such as a wood stove or a kerosene heater, that is not reliant upon electricity is a very prudent choice. But, unless you harvest your own wood from your own land you would have to transport wood that you buy from someone else or have them deliver to you. However, owning a kerosene heater is a much more viable option for most people because a kerosene heater is cheap to buy (usually around $130 at the most) and does not require a chimney which makes it good if you live in an apartment or townhouse in a city, there are also kerosene cook-stoves that you can buy to cook your food on.

Kerosene is not all that much more expensive than heating with electricity, where I live electricity is 11 cents per KiloWatt hour which, when you do the math, makes kerosene only slightly more expensive than using electricity to heat a home and most people’s electricity costs are A LOT more expensive than where I live (but with all the closing of the coal plants that rate is destined to go UP unfortunately). Even though it is slightly more, the extra expense is well worth it for the added security of having a heat source and fuel that is not dependent on an electrical connection and can be stockpiled inside your home waiting and ready to go in case of an emergency. However, kerosene is quite heavy, most liquids weighing 8 pounds per gallon, and most kerosene containers store 5 gallons at a time so that is 40 pounds, and while it can be done it won’t be easy having to transport kerosene to your house on foot, especially to stockpile enough for use in an emergency situation. Again, you need some form of transportation to get it home.

Now, you could always rent a car once a month and stock up on the necessities, this is what we did when we lived for a year without a car (back in the fall of 2006 our car died and we didn’t have enough money to buy one and so took a year to save the money) however most people do not have enough money saved even to buy a month’s worth of necessities all at one time, fortunately though, we did :D

So, from the data presented, I think it’s safe to say that the most important need is shelter ’cause without it you have no reliable source of water or electricity or a secure place to store and process the food that you procure (not to mention, it is also a place to sleep and store your clothing and keep you warm and dry!). I have never had a mortgage and I’ve haven’t had to pay any form of rent in quit some time, but when we lived in Maryland and rented an apartment the first thing we did, after paying off my husband’s school debt, our only debt ever, was save up enough money to cover 3 months of rent, we were paying $585/mo. at the time so we saved up an even $1800 reserved for rent payments should we ever, in the future, for some unforeseen reason, not have the means to pay.

We already owned a car that ran well, the biggest issue with it was the paying of the car insurance every year, so after we had the $1800 saved for rent we then saved enough to cover one year’s worth of car insurance expense should we ever, in the future, for some unforeseen reason, not have the means to pay.

Btw, you can also “pre-pay” other bills in this way. For example, most people’s water usage stays pretty stable resulting in relatively the same amount used in water each month, give or take a dollar here and there. So, take 1 month’s water bill and multiply it by 12 and save up that amount to have on hand so that you have the means to pay the water bill for a year. The same goes for trash pick-up, which is usually the same amount each month, we pay for the whole year all at once at the beginning of the year that way there is one less bill to keep track of. Or for electricity, especially when it comes to winter time heating, estimate the amount extra that it will cost each month to heat and multiply it by how ever many months you heat for and save up that total amount before the next winter hits, this way you already have it paid for!

After we had enough saved to cover 3 months of rent and 1 year of car insurance, we then created budgets according to the “envelope system” of saving, which most people are familiar with. Using different envelopes for the different budgets and putting the allotted money into the proper envelope each month. To this day we still do the same EXACT thing, but more through book-keeping a ledger than with actual physical cash in actual physical envelopes because a lot of our money is imaginary and in Paypal and in the bank account since we doing the majority of our buying and selling online. But we do have the ability to remove it ALL at a moment’s notice should we ever have to.

After we have paid all the bills for the month, the remaining profit is then spread, in percentages, over several savings budgets which are as follows:

General Savings: 30% – long ago this was our house/land fund for buying a house and land. Now, the money in this fund can, in theory, be used for anything but, in reality, it is used for nothing EVER! unless there is no other option, not just our “rainy day” fund more like our “when it rains, it pours” fund ;)

Health Fund: 20% – this is how we paid for a midwife in our recent homebirth, this is also how we pay for various herbal and nutritional supplements to keep the family healthy.

Car Fund: 10% – this is kept separately from the 1 year’s worth of car insurance, this fund is for regular car maintenance and any major car repairs or, heaven forbid, if we should have to buy a new vehicle :P

Tithe Fund: 10% – we don’t attend church and we don’t give tithes, instead we set aside 10% each month reserved for people who God puts in our path and makes it evident that we should help them, having this set aside makes sure that the money is always there and ready to go at a moment’s notice!

Children’s Fund: 5% – mostly used for clothing, shoes and homeschooling books and supplies.

Entertainment Fund: 5% – we dip into this fund for various family outings, like going to the state fair or going out to eat, or buying something like a video game or new toy that the children want etc. etc.

Prepper Fund: 5% – yes, we have a prepper fund! :D This is used for purchasing anything homesteading/self-reliance/prepper/survivalist related and is also an extra fund in addition to general savings that we could dip into in a time of emergency.

Projects Fund: 5% – this funds various projects around the house and land, we used it this summer to build a 5 foot wide floor to ceiling bookcase, an island/bar for the center of the kitchen and a brand new bigger and better chicken coop!

Personal Money: 10% (5% for me and 5% for my husband) – a.k.a. “Mad Money” lol ..this is money that my husband and I each get every month to spend however we want on whatever we want without having to consult the other spouse or involve them in the purchase. This also provides incentive for us to be as frugal as possible because, the more profit there is leftover after paying all of the bills each month, the more each of us gets to spend however we want! :D

Of course, all of this planning and saving is pointless if you do not have the discipline to limit your spending to the point where you actually have enough leftover at the end of each month to save. It is also pointless if you do not have the self -control to refrain from spending the money that you do manage to save, except for to spend it on that which the money is intended to be used. If you set rules and limits on yourself then, it follows, that in order to be successful you have to obey your own rules. For us, the “personal money” fund was key to making all of this work, at least in the beginning, after we got in the habit of saving though it just became second nature and now I could not imagine living life any differently!

Another thing I want to talk about is nutrition and the food budget.  Most people tend to spend money on food in a way that makes no sense, buying and eating things that are extremely unhealthy, especially things full of sugar and trans fats which are proven to harm your health, and the eating of which will just cost them money in medical bills in the long run.  I buy very little anything with much sugar in it, definitely no soda, only small amounts of 100% grape juice and I definitely don’t buy any baked goods or dry boxed cereal or anything like salad dressing or mayo containing soybean oil which is also extremely unhealthy.  If we wish to have a treat, such as birthday cake for example, I make it at home from scratch using things like real butter and eggs from our hens and milk from our goats.  Instead of dry-boxed cereal we eat oatmeal made from organic oats that I buy in 50 lb. bags.  I also make our own salad dressings using things like real extra virgin olive oil and raw apple cider vinegar along with fresh-cut herbs from the garden and my own mayonnaise using eggs from our hens.  Doing all of this saves a tremendous amount of money on the food bill while at the same time ensuring that we consistently eat REAL whole foods that nourish our bodies rather than destroy our health…saving us TREMENDOUS amounts of money in the long run.  Money that will never go to line the pockets of some stupid pharmaceutical company!

The most nutritious thing you can eat is meat, animal flesh, and protein in the form of eggs or dairy products that have been fermented like plain whole milk yogurt and cheese.  Even if the only thing you can afford is just regular ol’ commercial quality meat and protein it still has MORE nutrition and calories per dollar than regular non-organic commercially raised fruits, veggies and grains.  Most people try and say that veggies and fruit are healthy, but I beg to differ.  They CAN be healthy if they are organic and raised up in soil that hasn’t been nutritionally depleted, for the product only contains as much nutrition as the soil it was raised in.  Most of our produce we eat in season and a lot of it we grow ourselves, if I want a tomato or berries I don’t buy them from the store in the middle of winter, NO! they are treats reserved for eating at their specific time in their specific season, to do otherwise is quite simply just retarded, and not just from the perspective of taste but also from the perspective of getting the most nutrition for the money.  And if you want the most calories for the money buying these things NEVER makes sense for fruits and veggies contain very little calories, but raising them on your own land and consuming them in season makes PERFECT SENSE! :D

Therefore, the basis of the majority of our meals is meat and protein.  We eat A LOT of eggs that we raise ourselves, along with those eggs there are potatoes, both ones that we grow or organic potatoes that I buy from the store or the organic oatmeal that I mentioned earlier, occasionally we have homemade from scratch pancakes topped with butter and raw honey along with bacon or sausage on the side, these meals make up 99% of our breakfasts.  Lunches and dinners are mostly just meats/proteins with a side of either organic potatoes, organic brown rice that has been soaked, sometimes sprouted, and then cooked (I buy this in 50 pound bags), organic beans that have been sprouted and then cooked (I also buy these in 50 pound bags) or 100% whole wheat bread that I make with flour that I grind myself from organic red spring wheat that I buy in 50 pound bags.  Buying organic food in bulk from a co-op makes it FAR more economical than buying it in smaller packages from the grocery store.

And if you are a homesteader like me, one of the best ways to get the most nutrition and calories for the money and time spent is to raise your own milking animals, either goat or cow, and consume their milk raw and use it to make everything from butter to cheese, yogurt and even your own ice cream!  Raw milk contains loads of easily assimilable nutrition, including things like antibodies that keep your immune system running smoothly.  When our goats are in milk and we are consuming that milk on a regular basis we rarely get sick, the last time our goats were in milk my kids went 16 months without getting sick and, when the milk ran out and they eventually did get sick it was just a simple runny nose type thingy that dried up in about three days with no lingering after effects or secondary bacterial infection.  You just can’t go wrong when you grow your own!

I plan to follow this up with a part two on more ways to save money, so keep on the look out :D

Straight Talk About Birth

why natural birth

My first birth was in a hospital with a midwife, I’ve never birthed with an OB/GYN and I never will.  The first contraction hit at 7pm on April 19th, Nathan and I had just sat down to eat dinner and watch a movie (Blade – one of my favs!).  Having never experienced contractions before, I wasn’t entirely sure that it really was a contraction, so I didn’t say a word about it to Nathan and adopted a “wait and see” approach.  But then, exactly 1 hour later, another one occurred and then 45 minutes after that, at 8:45pm, another one happened.  Still, I didn’t say a word about it.

At that time, Nathan worked outside the home and had to be at work at 4am, so we often went to bed around 9pm.  After laying down, I initially fell asleep, but then was awoken around 10pm with another, and stronger, contraction which resulted in a sort of internal “popping” noise and an immediate wetness felt between my legs, I realized that my water had broke.  I got out of bed and went to the bathroom, took a shower and changed clothes…while in the shower I had 2 more contractions.

I came back into the bedroom, Nathan was awake, I said to him “My water broke and I’m pretty sure I’m in labor”  and he replied with a nod “Can I still sleep or should we get ready to go?”  “No”  was my answer “it’s still far to early to be going to the hospital.”  So, he went back to sleep and I went into the living room and watched some TV while pacing the room ’cause, even at that point, I already had dreadful back labor and the thought of sitting down was simply excruciating.  He was a posterior baby, meaning our spines were against each other in the way that he was positioned, and he remained that way for the whole 24 hour labor!

I labored in the living room, watching TV, reading while standing and pacing, even playing video games while standing and pacing and slowly, gradually my contractions got stronger and closer together.  Nathan got up at 3:30am, which was his normal waking time for work, and called out since it was quite obvious that we’d be having a baby some time that day.  After making us both some coffee, he went to his office to make some last minute preparations and I continued to labor in the living room with him checking on me every 15 minutes or so.  At that point, I remember, the contractions were occurring every 10 minutes and lasting about 30-45 seconds.  I felt mostly normal between contractions, but during contractions I would learn forward against the wall and sway my hips back and forth while focusing on deep breathing and relaxing my entire body so that the contraction could do the most work possible.

Because the uterus is a muscle it responds to stress and fear just like any other muscle, by tensing up and becoming rigid, this makes for more painful contractions that only work half as well at dilating the cervix.  The key to a smooth, uneventful, normal, non-medicated birth is to NOT be afraid.  Yes, it is powerful energy coursing through your body to open it up and allow safe passage of a baby, and that can be scary to some individuals, but, in reality, it is normal and good.  God made your body specifically to birth and to be able to withstand this powerful energy, it will not hurt you or break you, there is no reason to fear it.  Do not bunch up and tense up and internally “pull away” from contractions when they happen, instead receive them with joy and embrace them fully with open arms, internally relaxing INTO this energy and allowing it to move through your body unhindered so that it can do the most work possible.  The more work one contraction is allowed to accomplish, the fewer contractions your body need have overall to fully dilate the cervix.  Just relax and realize this:  You’re going to see your baby soon :)

Back to the story, at around 5:30am my contractions started coming every 5 minutes and lasting 45-60 seconds each, time to go to the hospital, which was only a short 10 minute drive away.  When we arrived at the hospital, the unfamiliar surroundings made my contractions stop almost immediately…I don’t even think they believed I was really in labor until the midwife did an internal check and discovered that I was a good 4 almost 5cm dilated.  After that disruption and the paperwork and the nurses doing their “thang”, poking, prodding, taking vitals etc. etc.  it took a FULL 2 HOURS before I finally felt comfortable enough that my contractions resumed and once they did resume they wanted readings on the contractions with this stoooopid belt wrapped around my belly and they made me sit down, I DID NOT WANT TO SIT DOWN, it hurt too much!  And that was the only “reading” they got as I adamantly and loudly, and in the process cursing their stoooopid machine to hell, refused to do it again! :lol: good times, good times  :lol:   …looking back now, I realize, that had I had a homebirth I probably would have already given birth at this point or at least been A LOT closer too it, rather that dealing with all the hospital CYA bullshit and the uncomfortable atmosphere of being scrutinized and watched…I’m the watched pot that never boils, their interFEARances did not help AT ALL.

Luckily though, the contractions did resume and with increased strength and severity…this is the point where everything sorta becomes a blur, at this point you’re living in what I call the “labor bubble”.  Anything and everything could happen around you, a nuclear bomb could go off and you wouldn’t give a shit ’cause you’re about to give birth dammit!  and that is the ONLY thing that is important to you, and until that baby comes out it is your whole world, everything else ceases to matter…this is normal and natural and good!  At this point, I was praying with every contraction, not that God make the pain stop but that he give me the strength and power of will to withstand the energy of birth and every single time, the very moment that I prayed, the contraction would instantly feel easier.  There was a really nice big deluxe shower in the bathroom of my hospital room and I spent a lot of my time hiding out in there with water as hot as I could stand it spraying onto my lower back where all the pressure was.

A lot of women, especially the control freaks, fight against this stage of labor and slow their birth tremendously in the process, giving into fear of being “out of control” they clench up tight and internally pull away from the contractions unwilling to go any further, but the more quickly and easily you allow yourself to enter into the “labor bubble” the faster you will see your new son or daughter.  It’s all about how willing you are to work with the energy of labor that plays a large part in determining how quickly labor will proceed…fortunately though, once the cervix dilates to a certain point that baby is coming out whether you want it to or not, better that you go along willingly rather than internally fight against it out of fear…all you’re doing is just making it unnecessarily painful for yourself!  At it’s very core this is really what birth is all about and, from a spiritual perspective, the main purpose of it is to teach us to give up control and give it over to a power that is infinitely higher and stronger than ourselves by which we are thus enabled to have a stronger and higher relationship with God, no longer fearful of letting him have complete control over our lives.  Of course, I learned all this the hard way :lol:

My first son was posterior for the whole labor and birth, he never turned.  Because of his less than ideal position his head wasn’t very well applied to the cervix, adequate pressure from the head pressing against the cervix is part of what causes labor contractions, but because of his position and combined with the fact that it was my first birth, I dilated very slowly and had to constantly stay on my feet so that gravity would force him downward and increase the pressure on my cervix and, hopefully, speed up dilation.  I don’t ever recommend sitting down in labor, especially in a first labor, for gravity helps tremendously in keeping things going.  Especially if you’re giving birth in a hospital where they wanna put you on a timetable and if things are not progressing according to their “schedule” they will want to augment labor with pitocin first, which will cause unnaturally painful contractions which will proceed to you wanting an epidural for the hideously unnatural pain and the epidural has great potential to slow down your labor, in which case they’ll wanna declare your labor “stalled” and do a cesarean section ’cause, after all, the good doctor does have that 4pm tee time to make!  :roll:   Don’t fall for this downward spiral of doom, stay on your feet, keep pacing, keep walking and to hell with the doctor’s tee time! :D

I don’t care what people say, the pushing stage of labor is infinitely harder than anyone bothers to mention to the first time mom.  I was completely unprepared!  I thought, at the time, that the labor was the hard part and that pushing the baby out was the easy part, it’s NOT…at least not when your baby is fully posterior and each push is like two steps forward and one step back.  I pushed for a full 2 hours before finally birthing my baby.  Plus, I was so tired that I just didn’t care anymore, I even took a nap while fully dilated.  Now, with the experience of six births under my belt, I know for sure that the pushing stage would have gone more quickly and been far easier had they not had me flat on my back and pushing with no contractions and without even feeling the urge to push…this is how the woman who is drugged up on an epidural pushes, for she could not feel the contraction or the urge to push even if she wanted to…but I was a natural labor, which most of the L&D nurses had very little experience with.  At the time I didn’t fully realize the horror of it all, but looking back now, the very fact that the idiotic L&D nurses had me on my back trying to push out a posterior baby is the absolute stooooopidest thing they could have done!  Squatting on a birthing stool or standing while semi-squatting with one leg up and supported on a piece of furniture would have been far better positions for pushing out a posterior baby, which are the positions I have used for all four of my homebirths…*sigh* live and learn right?

Successful pushing, like jumping into a fire, goes against all natural instinct.  As you push with each contraction, the longer and harder you push the more it will hurt, especially when the baby’s head is crowning, which burns like an em-effer and I am NOT over-exaggerating.  Using the “jumping into the fire” analogy you must resist the natural instinct to pull back from the pain and instead force yourself deeper and harder into it, the more efficiently you can do this the faster your baby will come out.  I know this from experience, I went from two hours of pushing with my first baby to just ten minutes of pushing with my sixth baby.  With this last birth I pushed so hard and so efficiently that I thought that my body might rip into two, but as quickly as it began it was all over and baby was out and in my arms :)

Once baby is out, it’s a very good idea to breastfeed them as soon as possible.  As long as the pregnancy was healthy and normal, and the labor and birth not drugged up, the baby will most likely arrive quite active and alert with a strong rooting and sucking reflex, this is the ideal time to latch baby onto the breast and let him/her have a first meal.  Stimulation of the nipples in this way will help the uterus to start clamping down and the placenta to separate from the wall of the uterus and be birthed more quickly.  I have breastfed ALL of my children, the shortest time being for only 8 months and the longest amount of time being 26 months, the breastfeeding relationship is actually my very most favorite part of the whole pregnancy cycle, it’s such a sweet and tender time of bonding and joy and love between mother and child that I would never give it up for anything in this world!  Plus it’s a lot easier than formula feeding, after all who wants the added work of washing bottles and mixing formula when they could be bonding with their baby while feeding them at the same time :)

Odds are, if it is your first time breastfeeding, you will probably get sore nipples and have issues of being uncomfortable as your milk comes in (I highly recommend investing in a few very supportive nursing bras) and, if you don’t breastfeed enough, you may have supply issues.  I have a motto “When in doubt, breastfeed!”  :D   I don’t care what anyone says, you can NEVER EVER breastfeed your baby too much.  In the early days it can seem like you might not have enough milk, and baby will suck and suck and suck, latch on and pull off, latch on and pull off repeatedly in an attempt to get something and then cry and get frustrated ’cause nothing comes out…please please please do not fret and give up and give formula, this reaction is completely normal and it is one of the ways by which your baby communicates to your body that it need to increase it’s milk supply.  Do not worry, baby is tiny, it’s stomach is about the size of it’s little fist, it does not require as much food as you might think and it will not starve to death.

I find, that the best thing to do is to carry baby around in someplace different, give baby a change of scenery…a different room with different lighting perhaps, babies are greatly interested in patterns of light/dark, black/white…for whatever reason they find the contrast intriguing.  If the weather is warm, and it often is as I’ve had four of my six children in the spring and summer times, I will take baby outside and show him/her around…show them plants in the garden and trees on the edges of the woods and the different livestock on our homestead and have their siblings or father talk to them and engage them, I do all that I can do to get baby’s mind off food for at least 20-30 minutes.  Then I come back inside, sit down, relax and try again, often within the 20-30 minute span the breast has already made enough extra milk for at least one let down, a snack to satiate baby till the milk more fully comes in.  Just keep breastfeeding, you can never do it too much and the more you do it, the more milk your body will make.

As a final word I just want to say that motherhood is first and foremost about sacrifice.  If we truly wanted to we could get that epidural and be completely disconnected from the birth experience but then that would not be giving baby the best birth possible.  Life is already difficult enough as it is, so the best thing that we can do for our children is give them the best head start on that life as we can.  Adequate prenatal nutrition and a natural drug free pregnancy and birth and breastfeeding are three ways that we can do exactly that.  It may be a lot of hard work and, at times, uncomfortable and downright painful but anything that is actually worth doing is never easy, and isn’t it all worth it to provide your baby with the best start possible?

For “meat eaters”

I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.

I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete but only one receives the prize? So run your race that you may lay hold of the prize and make it yours.

Now every athlete who goes into training conducts himself temperately and restricts himself in all things. They do it to win a wreath that will soon wither but we do it to receive a crown of eternal blessedness that cannot wither.

Therefore I do not run uncertainly and without definite aim. I do not box like one beating the air and striking without an adversary.

But, like a boxer, I buffet my body; I handle it roughly, discipline it while going through hardships and subdue it out of fear that after proclaiming the gospel and things pertaining to it that I myself shall be found unfit, not able to withstand the test, unapproved and rejected as a counterfeit.

For I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren that our forefathers were all under and protected by the cloud, in which God’s presence went before them, and every one of them passed safely through the Red Sea. (Exodus 13:21; 14:22, 29)

And each one of them allowed himself also to be baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea and were thus brought under obligation to the Law, to Moses, and to the Covenant, consecrated and set apart unto the service of God.

And all of them ate the same supernaturally given food. (Exodus 16:4, 35)

And they all drank the same supernaturally given drink. (Exodus 17:6; Numbers 20:11) They drank from a spiritual rock produced by the sole power of God Himself without natural instrumentality and that Rock is Christ.

Nevertheless, God was not pleased with a great majority of them, for they were overthrown and strewn down along the ground in the wilderness. (Numbers 14:29-30)

Now these things are given as examples, warnings and admonitions for us not to desire or crave or covet or lust after evil and carnal things as they did. (Numbers 11:4, 34)

Do not be worshipers of false gods as some of them were, as it is written: The people sat down to eat and drink the sacrifices offered to the golden calf at Horeb and rose to sport, to dance and give way to jesting and hilarity. (Exodus 32:4, 6)

We must not gratify evil desire and indulge in fornication and immorality, as some of them did, and twenty three thousand suddenly fell dead in a single day! (Numbers 25:1-18)

We should not tempt the Lord, try his patience, become a trial to him, critically appraise him and exploit his goodness, as some of them did, and were killed by poisonous serpents. (Numbers 21:5, 6)

Nor discontentedly complain, as some of them did, and were put out of the way entirely by the destroyer (death). (Numbers 16:41, 49)

Now these things befell them by way of a figure, as an example and warning to us; they were written to admonish and fit us for right action by good instruction, we in whose days the ages have reached their climax.

Therefore, let anyone who things he stands, who feels sure that he has a steadfast mind and is standing firm, take heed lest he fall.

For no temptation or trial, no matter how it comes or where it leads, has overtaken you and laid hold on you that is not common to all mankind.

No temptation or trial has come to you that is beyond human resistance and that is not adjusted and adapted and belonging to human experience, and such as man can bear. But God is faithful to his word and his compassionate nature and he can be trusted not to let you be tempted and tried and assayed beyond your ability and strength of resistance and power to endure, but with the temptation or trial he will always also provide the way out that you may be capable and strong and powerful to bear up under it patiently.

Therefore, my dearly beloved, shun, keep clear away from and avoid by flight if need be, any sort of idolatry.

I am speaking as to intelligent and sensible men. Think over and make up your minds for yourselves about what I say. I appeal to your reason and your discernment in these matters.

The cup of the blessing of wine at the Lord’s supper, upon which we ask God’s blessing, does it not mean that in drinking it we participate in and share a fellowship in the blood of Christ the Messiah?

The bread, which we break, does it not mean that in eating we participate in and share fellowship in the body of Christ the Messiah?

For we, no matter how numerous we are, are one body because we all partake of the One Bread.

Now consider those people of Israel. Are not those who eat the sacrifices partners with the altar and united in their worship of the same God? (Leviticus 7:6)

What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is intrinsically changed by the fact and amounts to anything or that an idol itself is a living thing?

No, I am suggesting that what the pagans do and sacrifice they offer, in effect, to demons and not to God at all and I do not want you to fellowship and be partners with diabolical spirits. (Deuteronomy 32:17)

You cannot drink the Lord’s cup and the demon’s cup. You cannot partake of the Lord’s table and the demon’s table.

Shall we thus provoke the Lord to jealousy and anger and indignation? Are we stronger than he that we should defy him?

All things are legitimate, permissible, and we are free to do anything we please. But, not all things are helpful, expedient, profitable and wholesome. All things are legitimate but not all things are constructive to character and edifying to spiritual life.”

-1 Corinthians 9:24-10:23 Amplified Version

At the beginning of this passage Paul relates the spiritual life to the running of a race, he uses the example of an olympic athlete who trains and restricts himself with severity in order to discipline his body and win the prize, a garland wreath, in the olympic games.  This was the perfect symbolic image to use for the Corinthians since Corinth was located in Greece where the olympic games began and were held in ancient times, athletic training was something that the Corinthians well understood.

He tells them this for he does not want them to be ignorant of the truth, using ancient Israel and their exodous from Egypt as a further example, of how, even though Israel was selected and chosen as “God’s People” even they, with ALL that God had done for them, did not take him seriously at his word.  They acted as lazy, whining, complaining, undisdiplined children – the complete opposite of an athlete who trains to WIN, the Israelites backtracked on God over and over and over again and God disciplined them for it!  In much the same way that a farmer or gardener goes into the field plucking out all the weeds that suck the life from the good plants, so to did God “pluck out the weeds” from amongst Israel…killing 23,000 in one day, 14,000 on a different occassion…

Paul says that this historical recounting of Israel’s time spent in the wilderness is given to us as an example and a warning to not fall into the same snare.  That we should take our spiritual journey and relationship with God as seriously as an olympic athlete takes his training.  We can further see this same idea when he admonishes Timothy to “Fight the good fight (like a boxer!) of faith, lay hold (like a wrestler!) on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.” -1 Timothy 6:12

Throughout scripture he has often used similar examples to illustrate the same idea:

1.  That of growing up from a newborn babe on milk to a full grown meat eating man – “I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able…” “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” -1 Corinthians 3:2; 13:11

2.  That of being a soldier – “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.  No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.  And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully. -2 Timothy 2:3-5

The Amplified Version says: “Take, along with me, your share of the hardships and suffering which you are called to endure as a good first-class soldier of Christ Jesus.  No soldier when in service gets entangled in the enterprises of civilian life; his aim is to satisfy and please the one who enlisted him.  And if anyone enters competitive games, he is not crowned unless he competes lawfully and fairly, according to the rules laid down.”  …why else do you think he tells us to “put on the WHOLE ARMOR of God”?  He is presupposing that you are already a soldier, with the mentality of a soldier, engaged in (spiritual) warfare to endure hardships and horrors for the sake of him who has enlisted you…for it is soldiers, not civilians, who typically wear armor.

And no proper soldier when in service gets entangled in the enterprises of civilian life for, as Jesus said, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” -Matthew 6:24.  A soldier is trained to wholly give up himself to the work and and in service; ready to part with all worldly enjoyments and suffer the loss of all things, when called to do it, for the sake of the one who leads him.  The person who professes to be a Christian is not here on this planet to be a people pleaser, nor to please himself, by seeking his own ease and rest, his worldly paycheck and insurance, his “scooby snack” and pat on the back, but to please the Lord Jesus Christ, in whose book his name is written.  This is the mentality of a soldier and in our modern day “christian” church it is exhibited by few and far between.

After discussing Israel’s failures, their succumbing to trials and temptations in the wilderness, Paul gives us assurance that we need not be like the Israelites, that God will never give us more than we can bear but that we must bear up under it patiently with full strength of resistance and power to endure.  Like the athlete who buffets his body, I love that word “buffet” (and Paul is NOT talking about food here!)…it means to strike repeatedly, to strive with or contend against, to make one’s way through with blows (punches) and struggling.  Struggle against the body, against the flesh, handle it roughly allowing it no mercy and subdue it, bring it under subjection to The Spirit Man, The New Creature in Christ.  For, if you do not, just as the Israelites in the wilderness, you will very quickly return to your old ways.

Chief among these “old ways” to which they returned, Paul lists first their pagan idolatry and, most specifically their mixing of the two, as being especially heinous.  Israel’s continuing to propagate and participate in pagan traditions, feasts, and rituals while at the same time professing to be God’s People.  This is devilish evil in his sight and the same practice continues today in so-called “christianity” with their propagation and participation in pagan traditions that they use to “worship” God on what they declare are his most holy of days: Christmas and Easter…when, in reality, these days and these traditions proceed Christ by a couple THOUSAND of years (at least!) and have nothing AT ALL to do with holiness or proper worship of him.  Just do a quick google search on “the pagan traditions of christmas” or “the pagan traditions of easter” or better yet, do a search on youtube, there are a lot of good videos there.  If you do not wish to learn more then you can stop reading right here, otherwise you’re just wasting your time.

At best, most christians have been decieved.  As dear children who understand as a child and think as a child, in only the most simplest of ways, deceived into believing that what they do is good and pleasing in God’s sight.  Just like the toddler who gifts his mother with a booger or a worm, she can appreciate the act and accept it with grace because she understands the love in his heart, even if the gift itself is gross in her sight.

Likewise, God understands our hearts and the love we have for him, he knows us inside and out and does not reject our gifts of boogers and worms.  But, eventually children grow up and they become adults.  And, try as you might, you cannot stay a “spiritual baby” in mama’s lap suckling at her breast forever, that is not the natural way of things and this isn’t Neverland, at some point you have to grow up!  If the adult son gifted his mother with boogers and worms she would likely be angry and throw the gifts back in his face (I know I would!), this would be an insult to her because she knows that her son’s understanding has deepened, that he has matured and “knows better” than to give his mom boogers and worms.

Likewise, it is the same with God, our Eternal Parent.  There comes a time where it is expected that we grow up and start acting like spiritual adults who “put away childish things” like the pagan traditions (our gifts of boogers and worms) that we, in our former childish ignorance, thought right to worship God with.

This all goes back to the beginning of the passage where Paul likens the christian walk to an athlete training to win a race.  An athlete’s lifestyle, if he wishes to be at all competitive, is quite rigid and severe with a specific diet and specific times of training for a specific amount of time doing very specific exercises, along with getting enough sleep so that his body might recharge and become stronger.  The way that he lives his life is very different from that of the average couch potato.  The same can be said of the soldier who undergoes rigorous training in boot camp and must be established in the ways of survival and how to kill the enemy so that he may endure the hardships and dangers of the battlefield.  His life is very drastically different than the life of a civilian.  And quite naturally much more is expected of the adult than of the child, but at the same time much more freedom is given as well.

Twice throughout 1 Corinthians Paul says this, almost word for word both times:

“All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient : all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.”  – 1 Corinthians 6:12

All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient : all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.” – 1 Corinthians 10:23

Twice in the same book he tells us this, for it really isn’t about “right vs. wrong” or going to hell.   No, once you reach a certain point of christian maturity it becomes all about The Mission, The Goal, The Purpose…the “what” that he has you here to complete, as different for each christian as there are individual christians with differing talents and strengths and weaknesses.  And what is most conducive to accomplishing the “what” vs. the things that are just a complete waste of time (and I don’t as much view christmas or easter as being evil per se as much as I view them as just being a complete and utter waste of time and energy for no real discernible purpose) and not edifying AT ALL to The Mission, The Goal, The Purpose that he has for you.  Only you can make this decision.

Late Pregnancy Protocol

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WARNING: I’m about to reveal my inner midwife!  This post contains very frank, blunt, and to the point advice concerning pregnancy, sex, and the inner workings of the female body.  If that type of stuff offends you: DO NOT READ THIS.  And please do not bitch about it in the comments section. Thank You. :)

I am not a doctor, just a woman who loves being a woman and all that makes women unique and different from men.   First and foremost is a woman’s ability to carry and grow a new life within her and, when the time is right, allow that new life safe passage into this world.  I have given birth to 5 children and am currently 35 weeks pregnant with child #6, ALL of them have been natural un-medicated pregnancies and deliveries, and nothing in this world has grown me and transformed me more as a person than childbirth has.

This post will be mostly about late pregnancy, especially the last 30 days of pregnancy leading up to the estimated date of delivery.

I have noticed an interesting thing over the almost 12 years since my first birth and that is the many many women who go well past their due dates especially in first time pregnancies.  And not only going well past their due dates but giving birth to freakishly large babies as well, mostly due to the extra long time baby spent in “incubation”.  I postulate that this occurs for three main reasons:

1.  Not enough fat in the diet.  Hormones are responsible for initiating labor and keeping it going, the body makes hormones from fat and cholesterol (especially saturated fat, but stay FAR FAR away from trans-fats aka “Partially hydrogenated oils” -usually soybean oil which is also GMO- and the unhealthy foods containing them.. the cakes, the cookies, the crackers etc. etc.. just because they have lotsa fat doesn’t mean they are a legitimate source that your body can adequately utilize, grain products also abnormally “fatten up” babies..and the momma!  Stick with mostly meats, eggs, and raw/fermented dairy products for the good healthy fats.) But most women are afraid of fat for fear of  getting fat, especially in late pregnancy when they are already feeling ungainly and cumbersome.  Oftentimes the body wants to go into labor but there just isn’t enough fat in the diet, especially certain fatty acids, from which the body can manufacture the large amounts of hormones that are needed to initiate labor and so the women goes over her due date.

2.  Not enough sex.  Sex got the baby in there and sex can help get it out!  Regular sex in late pregnancy can go a long long ways towards make sure that baby comes out in a timely manner. Orgasm releases the hormone called oxytocin (stimulation of the nipples also releases oxytocin) which is one of the main hormones that is responsible for initiating labor.  Not to mention the fact that semen contains certain hormonal precursors that cause the cervix to ripen and soften allowing quicker and fuller descent of the baby’s head into the pelvis (this has an even stronger effect when semen is ingested btw).  Sex and birth are waaaay more inter-related than most people realize, just because you’re feeling huge and unlovely in so late pregnancy don’t let that sway you from regular relations with your husband or significant other, not only will it increase your odds of an on time delivery but is beneficial all around for maintaining a happy relationship during a time of life that can be pretty stressful.

3.  Not enough activity.  Let’s face it, we live in a sedentary society and unless you make a concerted effort to move.your.body. it just ain’t going to happen in most people’s day to day living experiences.  Birth is a VERY physical activity and in order for it to proceed happily and unhindered the body requires a certain level of physical fitness.  This doesn’t mean you need to be able to run a marathon or become a power lifter, it just means that you need to be on.your.feet. UP! and walking around for the majority of your waking hours.  Through the help of gravity, walking around helps baby get lower and lower into your pelvis and this increased pressure on your pelvic floor is one of the ways in which your body is “signaled” that baby is mature enough (weighs enough) to be born.

As I have said before in a previous post (this one right here) I have been eating a diet higher in protein and fat, higher than what most women eat in our society, since I was 18 years old.  I got married 1 month after my 19th birthday and got pregnant with my first child 1 month later.  During that whole pregnancy I worked at McDonald’s and got plenty of activity from my job, I also had a small garden that I worked in on a regular basis.  Following a 24 hour natural unmedicated labor, I gave birth to my first child 1 day before his due date and he weighed 7 lb. 1 oz.

It was during my second pregnancy, however, that I became HEAVILY interested in pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and ALL THINGS midwifery related.  I read many many books on the subject, both physical books and much online, during that pregnancy is when I developed my nutritional protocol for pregnancy (this one right here) as well as this late pregnancy protocol which I shall soon share with you.  My second son was born 10 days before his due date and weighed 8lb. 4 oz.  Also, the amniotic sac remained intact throughout the whole labor up until I pushed his head out and then it broke open.

My third son was born 1 day early weighing 7 lb. 2 oz…. my fourth child (my first daughter) was also born 1 day early weighing 8 lb. exactly…and my fifth child, fourth son, was born 1 week early weighing 6lb. 7 oz. …small he was yes, but perfectly healthy!  For ALL of those pregnancies I followed my nutritional protocol as well the late pregnancy protocol.  I share all of this to show that I practice what I preach, that I am not just making up something from nothing.  I research and try things and I share the things that work for me in hopes that those things might help others.

Beginning 30 days before my due date I start taking these supplements:

1.  Borage seed oil capsules standardized to 300 mg GLA, 1300 mg (Gamma linolenic acid)  take 1 daily.  This is used by the body to make prostaglandins (a type of hormonal precursor) which is then used to make the hormones to initiate labor.  This DOES NOT induce labor, it simply gives your body the necessary building blocks to make the labor hormones once the body deems that the time is right.

2.  Natural Vitamin E  (look at the label, you want d-alpha tocopheryl, synthetic vitamin E is labelled “dL-alpha tocopheryl” and we don’t want that.)  400 i.u.’s daily.  This helps with circulation, helping the baby get more oxygen from the blood and preventing varicose veins in momma, along with increasing fatty acid assimilation.

3.  Vitamin C, 500 mg daily, this helps the bag of water stay intact and strong.  Don’t want premature rupture of membranes and stalled labor before baby is ready to come out!

And the newest thing I added, I started taking them on October 1st of this year, is Alfalfa tablets (1,000 mg tablets) and I take anywheres from 8-16 a day!  They are AWESOME and give me loads of energy, they also seem to reduce the heartburn and constipation that can especially become a problem during the last trimester of pregnancy.  I’ve had great results so far and highly recommend them!

Many of pregnancy’s discomforts are alleviated by the use of alfalfa tablets, including morning sickness, heartburn, constipation and anemia. Alfalfa tablets raise the vitamin K level of pregnant women, reducing postpartum bleeding in both quantity and duration, and they increase the vitamin K stores in newborns, reducing bleeding problems for them as well. They support success in lactation because they help increase and sustain milk supply. They frequently help alleviate nausea, almost always relieve constipation, and they bring up red blood counts in a beneficial way. They also seem to help reduce swelling and improve erratic blood sugar levels.

Because alfalfa tablets are very high in vitamin K, they could be dangerous to take for anyone who needs to be on blood thinners such as Heparin. Their use should be stopped temporarily if one gets a urinary tract infection and cut back, at least temporarily, if one gets diarrhea.

People who have very poor bowel flora may have temporary bouts of gas the first week or so when they start taking them, so they should start at a more gradual pace. I have postpartum moms take a few right after the birth to help with blood loss and bowel movements, then not take any more until the fourth or fifth postpartum day, gradually building back up to about four to eight a day depending on diet and need. They can use oat bran tablets if they need to for bowel function in the meantime. The reason for this course is twofold: the degree to which alfalfa promotes lactation can be too much for comfort until engorgement subsides, and newborn jaundice takes longer to go away if the mom is taking alfalfa tablets.

Excerpted from “The Amazing Alfalfa,” by Lisa Goldstein, CPM, CNM; in Birth Wisdom: Tricks of the Trade Vol III (a Midwifery Today book)

Here are links to the products I usually buy, all of them from Amazon Prime:

Alfalfa Tablets

Vitamin C

Natural Vitamin E

Borage Seed Oil Capsules

Interim Heating and Pumpkin Processing

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Beautiful “Connecticut Field” and “Fairytale” pumpkins (a classic french heirloom pumpkin aka Musque De Provence) in my kitchen awaiting processing. They make as good decorations as they do good food! :D

No frost yet, we have been very very lucky thus far!

Two close calls, one on October 4th where we hit a low of about 32F but it was a windy cloudy night so no frost fell…our other close call was just the other night on October 19th when we hit a low of about 34F.  Our average first frost date is October 15th so right now we are living are borrowed time…and looking at the forecast it appears that there is no chance of frost for at least the next week or so…good for the pumpkins in the garden that are still ripening on the vine and good for the heating bill!

We don’t heat the house in October if we can help it, we haven’t heated the house in October for the past three years. Every year I view it as a challenge to the body and the psyche, weaning myself of summer’s heat according to nature’s calendar, allowing myself to feel the chill and letting my body adapt.

Most people, in America at least, thanks to electric heating and air conditioning spend the majority of their lives at a comfortable 72F, but this weakens the body and what do you do when there is no electricity?  It’s yet just one more way in which to feel overwhelmed and uncomfortable in an extreme situation when, with just a little willingness to allow uncomfort onto ourselves as the situation naturally arises in our day to day living, we can become better acclimated to a wider range of temperatures.

Just three years ago, I was one of those women who got easily cold and huddled under a blanket shivering and sipping hot tea or coffee the very moment the ambient indoor temperature dropped below 70F :lol: . My husband, however, is the exact opposite, he hates heat as much as I hate cold and the moment the temperature starts to get above 76F he’s wiping his brow and moaning about the heat.. soooo we made a mutual pact to help each other adapt…he stopped using AC in the summer and I agreed to run the heat for only five months of the year (November-March) it used to be six and sometimes even seven months out of the year, and considering that he harvests the majority of the wood that we heat the house with it is a HUGE help to him!

Now, three years later, I don’t even feel cold until the temperature gets down to around 60-62F and I sleep quite comfortably with nighttime temperatures in the low 50’s as long as I have my trusty wool blanket :D  When the temperature drops we don’t light a fire in the woodstove or turn on a heater, instead we wear extra clothes (pants combined with a t-shirt or long sleeve shirt under a fleece hoodie with socks and house slippers is all I need to feel warm, same goes for the kiddos too) and we keep all the blinds and curtains open to let in as much sun as possible and we roast all the tasty pretty pumpkins that we grew in the garden over the summer and fall!

The residual heat radiating from the oven during the pumpkin roasting keeps the house at around 64-68F during the day depending on how warm it is outside.  And then I use the tasty pumpkin puree to make everything from pumpkin pie to pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin bread and pumpkin cookies, pumpkin soup and even pumpkin lasagna..also not forgetting to mention my newest recipe for Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream! (just do a quick search on your favorite search engine for “pumpkin recipes” there are many to choose from!)

Most of the sweet treats, like cookies and bread, I put in the freezer to use over the course of the winter for entertaining, like around Thanksgiving, or to give as a gift.  If I have too much pumpkin I also can it in cubes which requires a long duration of processing in a pressure canner, further helping to warm the house. (for a good article on pressure canning pumpkin, click here)

Pumpkin roasting is extremely easy! You just take your pumpkin, cut around the stem and pull it out and then cut the pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds and stringy messiness (I feed all of that to the chickens, they love the seeds) rub it with a bit of olive oil on the inside and set cut-side down in your roasting pan, add a couple tablespoons of water and pop into a 350F oven for about an hour.  When the flesh is soft and easily separates from the skin of the pumpkin, remove from oven and let cool, scoop out flesh and puree in a blender or food processor (I feed the pumpkin skins to the chickens of course) …if you absolutely need to then add a bit of extra water to get it to process smoothly, but seriously try not to do so unless it is absolutely necessary…in my opinion, it keeps and cooks up so much better without the extra water!

Doing all of this feeds us well and cheaply and heats the house at the same time, all in all a win-win situation if you ask me :D

Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream

Winter Luxury Pie Pumpkin in the middle and Connecticut Field Pumpkins on either side

Winter Luxury Pie Pumpkin in the middle and Connecticut Field Pumpkins on either side

I have these three gorgeous pumpkins just sitting on my counter begging to be used for something. Over the weekend we had guests visiting and I had it in my head to make a pumpkin pie for them but summer returned with a vengeance here with highs in the mid 80’s when in July our highs were only reaching the low 70’s (and sometimes only in the high 60’s) on most days and that completely took away any desire for pumpkin pie. So, instead, I got my creative juices flowing and devised this pumpkin pie “ice cream” using coconut milk (since our goats are not in milk right now, otherwise I’d have used their milk and cream..) and egg yolks as the base and it turned out so good that I’ve made five batches in the past week and all of our guests loved it :)

processing the winter luxury pie pumpkin

processing the winter luxury pie pumpkin

All you need do is whisk together in a bowl:

1 cup pumpkin puree (I roasted a homegrown “Winter Luxury” pie pumpkin, scooped out the flesh and pureed it in the food processor)

1 13.5 oz. can coconut milk, preferably organic, we buy this in bulk from Amazon Prime Subscribe and Save

5 egg yolks, I used yolks from our hens eggs of course :D

1/2 cup raw sugar, preferably rapadura but demerara will do

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. ground ginger (this may seem like a lot but I LOVE GINGER!)

1/4 tsp. ground cloves

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp. hazelnut extract (totally optional, but I LOVE the taste of hazelnut with pumpkin :D )

Dump the mixture into your ice cream maker and process according to your maker’s instructions. Serve at once!

my ice cream maker, birthday gift from last year

my ice cream maker, birthday gift from last year

churn churn churn

churn churn churn

the finished product :D

the finished product :D