Water Birth and VBAC #3

At 35 weeks pregnant, John and I moved back home to South Carolina.  While this was hard to do pregnant (again) and tough to leave our church family, homeschool family, and friends, I was excited.  Why?  Because in the state of South Carolina, a midwife can care for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) patient nd I could have a water birth!  In Florida, it is ILLEGAL for a midwife to do such!  VBACs are like taboo to many offices and hospitals.  Here’s my timeline and how wonderful Payson’s birth was!

My kids were staying with my sister so I took full advantage of a nap!  And this is when it began.

2:30 – woke up with severe heartburn and cramping.  Took 2 chewable calcium/magnesium supplements.  They worked like a charm and I was able to get some cleaning done and did not give it anymore thought.

4:00 – Having consistent contractions but they were not hurting and I was busy around the house so I just assumed they were the joys of Braxton Hicks.  I took two more chewable calcium/magnesium (I’ll share later why these are helpful in another post but they help your muscles relax).  Then met my sister to get my other three little ones after our oldest got home from school.

4:30 – Sent the hubby an email at work.  “Not sure how long you will be but I’ve been having more contractions quite a bit but they are not hurting at all.  So may be nothing.”

5:30 – Hubby gets home and I’m finishing up vegetable soup and cornbread.  While eating, my contractions are definitely 2-3 minutes apart, but I’m still not hurting.  They are uncomfortable.  Let me remind you this is my fourth baby so I know what contractions and labor are!

6:30 – I wanted to take a hot bath but did not want to stall labor if it was coming.  I did not think I was in active labor yet so I wanted the contractions to get stronger so I took a shower.  My sister and her family headed to my house.  Called the midwife and told her my contractions were 2-3 minutes apart for almost 2 hours but they were not strong and I had TWO while on the phone with her without any interruptions.  She said it was my call.

7:30 – Contractions were nonstop.  They were 90 seconds long and coming back to back basically.  I was in labor!   They were finally stopping me from walking and I had to stop and sway.  I popped two more calcium/magnesium and we headed to the car and called the midwife.  Sitting was hurting!  On the way to the hospital, I’m texting my mom and few close friends!  Yeah….I did not realize I was in active labor about to deliver this baby any minute!

8:20 – Check into labor and delivery to get checked.  My midwife said I was only 5-6 cms.  I thought I would cry.  I did not want to get there that early.  I was almost 8 cm when I checked in with my third and was 10 cm. within 2 hours of checking in.  I wanted to time it well.  But oh well I thought….just longer in the birthing pool.  Got me to my room, checked vitals, etc.  I was asking for my birthing pool and wanted out of the bed.  Your body handles labor so much better walking, swaying, moving….contractions are killer on your back!

About 9 – I was in my birthing pool.  It felt great!  The hot water really helps you relax and your body is able to handle the contractions better.  At one point I was sitting on my bottom, another time I was leaning over the pool on my knees, and later I was just floating it felt like with my feet pushing on one side and back on the other!


It’s a little blurry.  But I’m laughing between contractions! 

10845996_10205247076433312_9029301716825240338_nI’m concentrating more.  But it was so nice to move into any position during my 15-20 minutes in the pool!

9:10 (ish) – I feel a pop (now I know that was my water breaking).  I’m in pain.  I’m starting to ask for the doctor so I can get an epidural.  I’m crying “I cannot do this”  In fact, I’m apologizing (WHY?) to my husband for not being able to do it.  Looking back immediately after her birth, I was in the transition phase.  But I never thought I would have been there that soon.

9:15 (ish) – Midwife comes in and apologizing for not being there sooner.  She was getting all the paperwork together and was finishing my registration.  She asked to check me and all I remember was her saying, “Honey, you are having a baby now.  Let’s go”  I don’t know if she even told me to push.  My body just did it.

9:17 – I was holding my sweet baby girl!

10806300_10205247084193506_5778003991271207137_nYou see how clean that baby is coming straight out of the water!  That was great!

9:30 (ish) – Laying on the bed holding my baby and signing my check-in papers (I never got to that before I delivered).   My midwife apologized over and over.  She did not expect me to go that quickly.  Midwives stay with you during a good majority of your labor and delivery to help you more.  They don’t typically get there just to catch the baby:)


Our 2-year old holding his baby sister.  Let me share that she has yet to be bathed!  That’s also how alert a baby comes into this world with a natural birth!

It was such a true blessing to deliver Payson using a birthing pool.  It was amazing.  It was totally different than any other delivery.  I have delivered four babies.  First was induced, labored, pushed, and then c-section.  Second was VBAC with a midwife and epidural.  Third was a vacuum assisted birth.  And now a waterbirth.  If God blesses us with more, this will definitely be my choice of birthing if possible again!  Recovery was amazing!  I was walking out of the pool on my own within 15-20 minutes of delivering and discharged 24 hours later!  While there is absolutely no shame in having a needed c-section or using medication for pain, recovering from a natural birth is far easier.  But having a natural birth does not make me a supermom or a better mom than others.  And I will highly recommend Greenville Midwifery and Greenville Hospital any day to a VBAC mom!

Calcium/Magnesium for Labor
A mom’s experience with calcium that is absorbed well to aid in easier labor.  This combo together helps calcium be absorbed better.
Another woman’s thoughts (who studied midwifery) on calcium and magnesium with some great sources!

Reflection of my Daughter’s Health


In a couple of weeks, my beautiful daughter will celebrate her 6th birthday!  As parents, we often reflect on the past birthdays, the fun trips, and the sweet baby we once held.  This time last year, I was flown to New York City by Shaklee Corporation to share my personal testimony about how Shaklee products have changed the health of my daughter.  At that time, I was asked questions about my daughter before using Shaklee cleaners and my daughter after changing products.  Wow….at one point during my video interview, I thought I was going to cry.  In fact, my mother was with me and she did cry!  It was not that I had not realized how much her health had improved, but I simply did not think about her past anymore.  Today, I want to reflect on my daughter’s health.  But first it is important to know that I am simply a mom.  A mom that did a lot of research to help her daughter.  As parents, we must be advocates for our children and research what is best for them, while working with doctors.

With that said, here’s my reflection!

From 10-months on, my daughter was always sick (Please note I did pull all our insurance records to ensure accuracy)

On antibiotics 1-3 times a month except five months in a 27-month period
Chronic nighttime cough
Throw up at night from coughing so hard
Runny nose
Overall was always sick
Tubes placed in her ears
Adenoids removed

As my daughter approached her second birthday, it seemed she was getting worse.  I was referred to a pediatric asthma and allergy specialist.  At two-years old, she was diagnosed with asthma.  After a few months of trial-and-error, they settled on five different medications.  (Feel free to read more about her initial medications here).  While we were able to control her cough better and get sleep, she was still sick all the time.  I was told that it was normal and she would slowly grow out of being sick so much.

After a year on all these medications, I was able to wean her off a couple of them simply by changing the cleaners in my house!  I never knew that toxins inside my home were hurting her and causing her asthma to flare up.  Another year later, after continuing to see my daughter sick at least once a month, I was determined to do something different.

After researching more, reading stories from other moms with similar situations, listening in on health webinars, and chatting with an awesome health coach, I decided nutritional habits had to change.  I learned that many of her medications were weakening her immune system.  I learned about this weird thing called candida and how 80% of our health was connected to our gut, and all these antibiotics she had been on were ruining her gut flora.  I learned that she did not eat enough protein.  I learned I should stop dairy and sugars as much as possible during an illness.  I learned SO. MUCH!

The best part of all my new knowledge was being able to apply it to my family, specifically my daughter.  Since March 2013, Lenna-Grace has been taking supplements to help her be healthier.  In return, she has been medication free for two years.  Let me repeat that.  Lenna-Grace, who once took FIVE medications daily to control her asthma and allergies, has been medication free for TWO YEARS.  And since she has not needed to take daily medications, she has also not been sick in two years.  The past two years, she has only had  one sick appointment, which was when we decided to get a dog and her asthma flared up.


Today….I am excited to watch my beautiful, healthy little girl run outside, ride her bike as long as she wants, play in the snow without stopping to catch her breathe, enjoy running around chasing her brothers, and much more.  Today, I am thankful for knowledge.  I am thankful for friends who share their knowledge with you.  But mostly, I am thankful for this beautiful girl!

Asthma….7 months later

In April, I shared about my daughter’s asthma.  I shared some statistics about asthma, side effects of medications, and how supplements were helping my daughter.  Be sure to read the post here if you have not already. 

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, asthma causes 4,200 deaths per year (that’s roughly 11-12 people a day).  If you look at my previous post, I quoted 9 people a day.  That number has went up since the CDC’s recent data was published!  The CDC also states that asthma costs $56 billion in medical cost, lost school and work days, and early deaths.

Lenna-Grace was previously taking the following medications (My daughter started these at only 2.5 years old):
Flonase – nasal steriod (1 spray in each nosil twice a day)
Flovent – Inhaled corticosteroids (2 puffs twice a day)
Zyrtec – allergy medication (1 tsp twice day)
Singulair – Leukotriene modifiers (1 tablet once a day, when sick or asthma/allergy was worse)
Albuterol – Short-acting beta agonists (2 puffs immediately before bed and if needed for attack)

Last year, I changed all the cleaners in my house to non-toxic cleaners.  I removed all chemicals that could be bothering allergies.  And in return, I saved money!  (I was a couponer, but was able to save money on non-toxic, safe, green, and effective cleaners with Shaklee Get Clean Kit).  You can see all my posts Healthy Cleaning on a Budget–All-Purpose Cleaner, Laundry, and Dishes.  You can also read about why non-toxic cleaners are necessary!   After making these changes, I noticed some improvement in Lenna-Grace’s runny nose and daytime cough.  But she still needed her medications at night daily.  She still was getting sick all the time.  And she still needed extra asthma medications when she was sick.

On March 1, I made the change.  I waited until Lenna-Grace was not sick and after I started adding extra protein to her diet.  I started giving her daily a children’s multivitamin, vitamin C, and an immune system builder.  It is important to note that Lenna-Grace was already taking a Flintstone daily vitamin.  However, I made the switch to an all-natural supplement that has no artificial flavors, no toxins, and is created and tested by the #1 Natural Nutrition Company in the United States.

Now….7 months later and I am happy to report that Lenna-Grace is doing AMAZING!  She has had no asthma or allergy medication since March 1.  She has not been to the doctor once (except her 4-year old check up).  She has not had any asthma attacks.  She has not had any major illnesses.  She caught a 24-hour tummy bug once.  She also had a cold.  The best part though…the cold lasted less than 5 days AND she needed NO asthma medications!!!  A year ago this would have been unthinkable.  When Lenna-Grace had a cold, she needed to double up on her inhalers and usually ended up at the doctor’s office.

This is so amazing to me that I am going to say it again.  Lenna-Grace has had NO asthma or allergy medications, NO doctor visits, NO antibiotics for 7 months, and NO real sicknesses. 

I am well aware that allergies and asthma is typically worse during certain parts of the year.  Last year, Lenna-Grace was the worst from August until March.  We survived March and August, and so far September.  I am well aware that flare ups can still occur.  My goal is to be proactive and help her to be a healthy little girl!

Just so you are aware of the medical costs–
From August 2012 – February 2013, our insurance records show the following:

Medical Costs $1,522.54 before insurance ($778.66 paid out of pocket)
Pharmacy Costs $392. 54 before insurance ($236.66 out of pocket).

Did you see this is $1015.32 out-of-pocket in only seven months!  For the past 7 months, do you know what I have spent?

Incredivites ($29.70/120 tablets)
NutriFeron ($39.00/60 tablets lasted us 7 months)
Chewable Vitamin C ($23.35/300 tablets)

Total: $151.45
**I also have Alfalfa ($16.45/330 tablets) on hand when I see allergies occurring, such as runny nose, for all the kids.**

From August-Feb, we spent $145.03 a month.  From March – September, we spent $21.64 a month!  WOW!

$145.03 compared to $21.64! 

$123 difference PLUS I have a healthy child.  I have spent less hours caring for a child coughing continuously.  I have spent less time at the doctor’s office.  I have spent more time enjoying my healthy children!  Did I mention that NONE of our four children have been to the doctor for any illnesses in this past seven months?  (Dalton did get a rash on his booty).


Here’s our happy and active little girl–with no asthma symptoms in SEVEN months!
In a few months, I hope to update you these same results.

If you would like to hear more, please join me Monday, September 23, at 9 PM (EST) for a wonderful, and free, webinar (Register here).  I have the wonderful privilege of guest speaking with Nutritionist Barbara Lagoni, with over 30 years experience, and Dr. Steve Chaney, Professor at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine for the webinar “Asthma – Natural Approaches to Strengthen Immune System and Reduce Environmental Toxins and Irritants.” Dr. Chaney received the rank of Distinguished Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics and the Department of Nutrition at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.  He has been teaching medical and dental students at UNC since 1972.  He also ran an active cancer research program and has published over 100 peer review scientific journal articles.

Please note that I am not a doctor.  I am simply a mother who longed to have a healthier child.  I did a lot of research.  I also kept (and still have) all asthma medications on hand in case needed. 

Why use Non-Toxic Cleaners in your Home?

Over the past week, I have shared with you the great financial benefits of switching your cleaners to concentrated cleaners.  I discussed using an All-Purpose cleaner that would last you over a year and only cost $10.25 (or $0.22 a gallon).  Then I discussed some AMAZING laundry products that were extremely low in cost and worked better than any product I have ever used AND could be used for every type of laundry cleaning need (newborn clothes, cloth diapers, sheets, quilts, carpet, etc.).  Finally, I discussed a $9.50 automatic dish washer product that could last you 3-6 months depending on how often you run your dishwasher (3-6 months is based on 4-7 times a week running the dishwasher and having regular water, not hard).  Can you really beat these prices?

I have clearly shown that the prices are great and very budget-friendly for those of us who really budget and spend our money wisely.  Now it is important to understand why using a safe non-toxic cleaner, that is affordable, is important.

Allergies, Asthma, ADD, Psoriasis, Autism, and much more.  These are all common issues that fly around the American household so much now.  It’s the norm to have someone in your home (or everyone) with at least one of these issues.  We see it as something to just accept and move on to medicate.  Have you ever considered that the toxins in your home could be triggering any of these?

Did you know the following?

  • Organic pollutants, found in many common cleaners and even air fresheners, are present at levels 2 to 5 times higher inside your home than out.
  • Common cleaners give off fumes that potentially can increase the risk of kids developing asthma, the most common chronic childhood disease.
  • If your home is anything like the average U.S. home, you generate more than 20 pounds of hazardous household waste each year (the EPA designates toilet cleaners, tub and tile cleaners, oven cleaners, and bleach as hazardous waste).
  • “More children under four die of accidental poisonings at home than are accidentally killed with guns at home.” -National Safety Council
  • “Of Chemicals commonly found in homes, 150 have been linked to allergies, birth defects, cancer, and psychological abnormalities.” -Consumer Product Safety Commission
  • “After analyzing 2,983 chemicals used in personal care products, 884 were found to be toxic.” -National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health
  • “Indoor air pollution is one of the most important environmental health problems.” -Environmental Protection Agency in a report to congress

What about children?

An AMAZING research article on Environmental Health Threats to Children can be found HERE.  I encourage you to read it.  It states (and much more):

  • Children are more heavily exposed to environmental toxins than adults. Pound-for-pound, children breathe more air, drink more water, and eat more food than adults. Thus, they are more exposed to whatever toxins are present in those media. Children’s exposures are further increased by the fact that they tend to play close to the ground and to engage in repeated hand-to-mouth activity.

  • Children are less able to metabolize and excrete most toxic substances.

  • Children’s rapidly developing organ systems-the central nervous system, reproductive organs, immune system, and lungs-are highly susceptible to toxic insult.

You can also check out this article that has supporting researchers on Toxins in your home.  Or see this post which also contains research about toxins in certain cleaners and their proven long-term effects on health.

Maybe you use “Green” products and think you are safe.  However, many cleaners are labeled “green” or “natural” but do not disclose all their ingredients and have toxins still in them!  Check out the EWG (Environmental Working Group) “Cleaners Hall of Shame”  This lists products that are labeled “green,” “safe” or “non-toxic” but in fact contain hazardous materials.  It also lists products that are fatal if inhaled, products that burn the skin, products with asthma-causing ingredients, products that are BANNED in other countries, and much more!  You would be surprised!

What is different about Shaklee Get Clean ProductsSee here excellent resource on why Shaklee is an exceptional value!

Always Safe

No Harmful Fumes
No Volatile Organic Cleaning Compounds
Contains NO:
Kerosene, Phenol, Cresol,
Lye, Hydrochloric Acid, Sulfuric Acid,
Sulfamic Acid, Petroleum Distillates, Ammonia,
Sodium Hydroxide, Butyl Cellosolve, Phosphoric Acid,
Formaldehyde, or Morpholine

Always Powerful

Outperforms or matches 15 national brands
100% money-back guarantee

Always Green

Sustainable ingredients from natural sources
Biodegradable surfactants
Recycling packaging
Recycling wipes
Recyclable dryer sheets
No chlorine bleach
No phosphates
No nitrates
No borates
No volatile organic cleaning compounds
No animal testing

WOW!  Checkout this amazing review of Shaklee Get Clean products.

So we have discussed the great value.  We’ve discussed the reason or non-toxic products.  And we have discussed the outstanding difference in Shaklee, a company that has been around for OVER 55 years and was “going green” before it was the thing to do.

If you would like more information on anything I discussed, please contact me (or the person who sent you here).  Be sure to check out all the great products offered by Shaklee’s Get Clean line.


Healthy Cleaning on a Budget…Part 3

Here it is, part 3 on Healthy Cleaning on a Budget.  Be sure to check out Part 1  on an All-Purpose cleaner that is very inexpensive, safe, natural, and words, and Part 2  on an exceptional Laundry detergent that is also Natural, Safe, Effective, and Budget-friendly.

Today we are looking at the DISHES!  Now–this was the last switch I made.  I actually made my switch to Shaklee’s Get Clean Dish Washer Automatic Concentrate 10 months after I switched all other cleaners!  You are probably thinking what I did before I made the last switch.  Why do I need a natural cleaner for my dishwasher?  I keep my dish detergent out of reach.  My kids do not get to it.  Natural cleaners cannot be better than Cascade!  Simply put….there’s NO NEED for an all-natural, toxic free dish detergent.  Right?

WRONG!  According to mamashealth.com, “The  #1 cause of household poisoning is dish detergent. Dishwashing liquids are labeled ‘harmful  if swallowed.’ Each time you wash your dishes, some residue is left on them,  which accumulates with each washing. Your food picks up part of the residue — especially if your meal is hot when you eat it.”  I could leave you a ton of great articles and reviews on the dangers of dish washing detergents.  You can see here, here, or here.  Should I list some more?

But that is not what changed my mind.  What did it for me?  My sweet and smart little man.  While we sat in the kitchen floor fixing Zachary’s toy, Dalton found the Cascade PODS.  At only 12 months old, he knew how to move the lock on the dishwasher, pull it down, and play!  Why is this a bad thing?  Well, the dishwasher is ready to go, which means the POD was ready to go in the dishwasher!  He got a good bite in his mouth–liquid and powder.  This was my second time calling Poison Control.  He threw up three times within five minutes and I was worried!  I was told to give him water or milk constantly for the next couple of hours.  He was still breastfeeding so this was easy for him.  Just offer to nurse and he was good!  (Did you know poison control will call you back every so often to check on your child when you call?)

After that….I made the SWITCH!

Well, now you know why I switched and to be honest costs was not even a concern at this point.  However, I have since learned that Shaklee’s dish cleaners are very budget friendly.

Cascade Complete                         Shaklee Dish Washer Automatic
75 oz                                                  32 oz.
On sale with coupons $5.50              $9.50 (membership price)
Fill both dispensers (~1.5 oz each)    1-2 tsps. per dispenser**
Approximately (25 load)                   Approximately 48-96 loads**
$0.22/load                                        $0.10-$0.19/load

**Depends on water, I use only 1 tsp. per load; therefore, getting about 96 loads a package.  If you have hard water, you may need to use more.  This would hold true for Cascade as well.  As a family of 6, we purchase our Dish Washer Automatic Concentrate once every three months.  We use the dishwasher once a day.

If the costs does not seem that important, what about the ratings of Cascade?  All Cascade Dishwasher Detergents receive a D or F rating.  EWG ranks the Cascade Powder Detergent an F overall because “Regulatory violation; May contain ingredients with potential for cancer; acute aquatic toxicity; chronic aquatic toxicity”

We can see that Shaklee is SAFER and budget-friendly.  What about other GREEN products?   I never couponed with Seventh Generation, but a quick breakdown since it is comparable to Shaklee.
Seventh Generation Powder Free and Clear
45 oz.
Fill both dispensers (1-1.5 oz each)
About 15-22 (depending on hard water)

Seventh Generation Powder Free and Clear actually received an A rating and is certified Green.  However, an A rating is the average.  There are a few ingredients in this product that are listed as potential harm- such as, PG-10-Laureth-7,which there is “Evidence of cancer; developmental/endocrine/reproductive effects; damage to DNA.”  **Please note that the other Seventh Generation Dishwasher detergents received a D or F rating** 

The other comparable company would be The Honest Company.  The Honest Company’s Auto Dishwasher Gel, Free and Clear, also received an A rating but contains enzymes that have “concern for general systemic/organ effects; general ecotoxicity; biodegradation.”  The Honest Company’s rinse agent scores a C because there are many concerns for allergies, asthma, environmental factors, cancer and a few more.  Also, the pods do not score high due to these concerns as well.  **Please note that the Honest Company IS NOT certified a Green product.

The Honest Company’s Auto Dishwasher Gel
40 oz
Fill one dispenser (1.5 oz)
about 26 loads

I hope this cost breakdown helps you see how economical it is to use Shaklee’s Dish washer concentrate.  More importantly, I hope from some of the reviews and articles, you see how dangerous dishwasher detergents can be.  Fumes given off can affect your respiratory system, reproductive health, and much more.  Then there’s the residue left on the dishes after being cleaned that you ingest–your children ingest.  Be sure to take this into consideration when picking the right cleaning products!

As always–Shaklee’s Dish Washer Automatic is SAFE, EFFECTIVE, GREEN, and BUDGET-FRIENDLY!

Shaklee’s Dish Washer Automatic is phosphate-free, bleach free, and preservative free. It contains no hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acids, sodium hydroxide, nitrates, artificial colors, and much more!  And is in environmentally friendly packaging!  Be sure to check out The Shaklee Difference!

Healthy Cleaning on a Budget….Part 2

Yesterday, I discussed Basic H2, an all-purpose cleaner that was Safe, Green, Effective, and very cheap!  Today, I want to discuss LAUNDRY!

When you are expecting a baby, you read all the information about washing children’s clothes with special detergent in order to avoid chemicals and irritate their skin.  Or maybe you use cloth diapers and buy a separate detergent to meet those needs.  Maybe you buy whatever is on sale.  What about those HE washing machines and buying the proper detergent for those.  There are some many reasons people buy certain laundry detergent.  What if you could meet any and all your needs with one detergent?

REALLY?!?!  One detergent that is safe, chemical free, and gentle enough for the newborn.  One detergent that does not cause sudsy build-up in your amazing HE washing machine.  One detergent that is perfect for cloth diapers.  One detergent that is effective on those tough football or baseball stains (Or spaghetti hand prints all over dad’s work shirt).  One product that can clean it all, in any machine, that is safe, non-toxic, and affordable!  Could it exist?  It does!

Shaklee Fresh Laundry is WONDERFUL!

First–why does it matter if your laundry detergent, softener, or stain removal is non-toxic?  What is so bad about it….I mean you wash it off, right?  Actually, many of the toxins stay on your clothes!  When we changed all our cleaning products to Shaklee, we took our oldest son, Jamie, off his allergy meds.  I am confident laundry was one of the products adding to his allergy problems.  How do I know this?   Because laundry was the main change (only change) I truly made for a month or two!

Have you seen some of the chemicals in common laundry products and what they can do?  Did you know that it could cause your eczema, allergies, or even aggravate your asthma?  Did you know it could effect your fertility?  There are links to hormone and reproductive effects of some of these chemicals!  Check out this list on chemicals to avoid in laundry products.  What you put in your washing machine stays on your clothes!  Some chemicals in our laundry detergents are banned in other countries!

So you are thinking–“I am okay.  I use Free and Clear” or “I buy from the Honest Company” or “I use Seventh Generation”  These are great companies.  I am not here to bash any of them.  But have you checked their ratings or ingredients?  The Environmental Working Group gave the Honest Company’s Stain remover an “F” rating due to some concerns in allergies, asthma, and skin irritations, and HIGH concerns in reproductive toxicity!  They received a “C” rating for the Free and Clear detergent because “May contain ingredients with potential for acute aquatic toxicity; respiratory effects; damage to vision.”  Seventh Generation’s Concentrated Free and Clear received a “D” rating, stating, “May contain ingredients with potential for acute aquatic toxicity; developmental/endocrine/reproductive effects; respiratory effects”

WOW….we are washing our clothes, our children’s clothes with this?

So–is there something SAFE out there that is AFFORDABLE and works?

SHAKLEE Fresh Laundry is:





No phosphates

No chlorine

Here is s great document on Shaklee’s Fresh Laundry Concentrate!

I have established how great it is, but is it affordable?!?!?!

Remember my post from yesterdayI broke everything down using coupons.  Well, let’s do the math again!

Tide Free and Gentle                    Shaklee Fresh Laundry
56 oz.                                             5.5 lbs (That’s 88 oz.)
40 loads                                          88 loads OR MORE
On sale with Coupons $5.50        $18.10 (membership price)
$0.14/load                                      $0.20/load

Now…I know what you are thinking–“Amber, that is $0.06 more a load!”  Technically, yes!  But I have to tell you that I do not use 1 oz. per load.  I use HALF an oz. or an ounce for kids’ dirty dirty clothes!  So, I really personally get about 120 loads.  Now let’s do the math….$0.15/load.

So–it’s is not necessarily cheaper IF you coupon.  If you do not coupon and get the best deals, it is definitely cheaper!  AND it is SAFE, Environmentally Friendly and can be used on HE, regular, front-load, top-load, and all clothes!

Shaklee’s other amazing product is Nature Bright
This can be used a pretreatment for stains, brighter in the wash, carpet cleaner, toilet bowl cleaner, shower cleaner, grout cleaner, and much more!  As you see, it is more than just for laundry!  Check out this great post on how effective it can be and what it can be used for.

Since it is so versatile, I cannot accurately compare it.  BUT…I will try a little:)

Shout Triple-Acting Stain Remover        Nature Bright
30 oz                                                       32 oz
Price with coupons $1.75                         $9.30 (membership price)
Price per galloon $7.32                             $2.33/galloon
(mix 2 T per 16 oz. water)

Clorox Bleach for Colors                      Nature Bright
77 oz                                                        32 oz
27 loads (according to site)                      64 loads (1 T)
Price with coupons $8.00                        $9.30 (membership price)
$0.30 per load                                         $0.15 per load

Finally–Fabric Softener
To be honest, if you are just buying a regular fabric softener with coupons, it is cheaper than Shaklee.  Shaklee’s is about $0.13/load.  Gain Fabric Softener with a coupon would cost me $0.06/load.  BUT I could not use it on my children’s clothes (it has chemicals that can remove the flame resistance on children’s clothes).  It is not Natural, toxic free, and biodegradable.  It is cheaper than Seventh Generation whose is $0.16/load.

That is a lot to take in!  The important thing to note is that Shaklee’s Laundry can be used for everything–baby’s clothes, linens, stains, cloth diapers, and much more!

If you purchase Nature Bright, Fabric Softener, and the Fresh Laundry, you will pay the following:

Fresh Laundry     $18.10
Soft Fabric           $8.80
Nature Bright       $9.30
Shipping             $12.40
TOTAL                $48.60

Monthly Costs:  13.89**

**Depending on if you use fabric softener with every load and how often you use Nature Bright, here’s the monthly Breakdown of what I PAY (I am a family of 6 washing about 8 loads a week so 32 loads a month). 

That is $14/month for SAFE, EFFECTIVE, GREEN laundry products!
*Our family, couponing, spent $15-$20.00/month depending on sales on laundry products that were not safe, were not Green, and did not always Work.  And only added to asthma and allergy problems in our home!

Tomorrow we will discuss the dishes!

In the meantime, check out Harper’s Post on Four Ways You Can Love Laundry!

Healthy Cleaning on a Budget….Part 1

Would you like to go “Green” and use products that are biodegradable?  Would you like to use cleaning products that are safer for you and your family?  Would you prefer to use products that are non-toxic and have no harsh odors?  Would you prefer to use cleaning products that would not aggravate your allergies and/or asthma?

All this sounds great, but…..IT IS TOO EXPENSIVE!  Right?

I couponed and saved a lot on all my cleaning supplies.  I bought most of them at CVS for around a $1.00.  So to consider ordering something I cannot use a coupon with is just not realistic.  Let’s consider a typical CVS run for some name brand cleaners. (This is a typical scenario of how I could use sales and coupons, along with CVS Extra Care Bucks, to buy my cleaners).

2/$5.00 – Lysol Disinfecting Wipes (35 count) reg. $4.69
– COUPON $0.50/1
2/$5.00 – Lysol All-Purpose Cleaner (32 oz) reg. $4.99
– COUPON $0.25/1
2/$5.00 – Lysol Toilet Bowl Cleaner (24 oz) reg. #3.49
– COUPON $0.50/1
PLUS….receive $5.00 in Extra Care Bucks when you spend $15.00 (Lysol Products)

Buy two of each listed above
TOTAL : $15.00
COUPONS: -$2.50

TOTAL:  $$7.50 for all 6 products!

Breakdown $1.25 for each product!  I know you are thinking that is pretty good!  But what if I told you that you could do BETTER financially and GO GREEN!!


Basic H2 All-Purpose Cleaner – (Cleans counters, appliances, floors, windows, mirrors, everything!  See this post for more detail.  Or Katie’s post for more information.)

Let’s Compare it to my scenario above:

Lysol All-Purpose Cleaner                                 Shaklee All-Purpose Cleaner
$1.25 (with coupons and sale)                              $10.25 (membership price)
32 oz.                                                                   16 oz
Use (per galloons) Straight from bottle             Use (per galloons) 2 teaspoons per galloon
Cost per Gallon $5.00 (4 x $1.25)                       Cost per Galloon $0.22
CANNOT be used on wood, windows,             Use different amounts to clean ANYTHING!
mirrors, cars, or furniture
Products Comparison

This is just Basic H2 Cleaner!  I use my Windows Bottle (only 2 drops per 16 oz. bottle) to clean windows, mirrors, wooden furniture, the inside of my car, and my LCD TVs and monitors (spray on a cloth first).  This means 2 drops of Basic H2 replaces Windex, Pledge, and Armor All in my home.  The All-Purpose bottle in my home is used to clean the kitchen counters, appliances, sink, bathrooms, spot clean floors, walls, and more.  This replaces Lysol Bathroom, Lysol Kitchen Cleaner, 409 Cleaner, and more!

The best part…..SAFE!  GREEN!  EFFECTIVE!  I purchased my All-Purpose Basic H2 May 2012.  Fifteen months later….yes 15 months later, and I still have HALF the bottle left.

Did I mention you can use this on your floors?  And to clean your car?

But Amber, I have to pay for shipping for this. Let’s say you JUST bought Basic H2 and did not divide the shipping among other products.
$10. 25 – Basic H2
$8.49 – Shipping
TOTAL – $18.74

That is still ONLY $0.39 per gallon of Basic H2!

EXTRA BENEFITS to saving money and Going Green!
Did we discuss how you could Save the Planet and Save for College?  Or how Toxins in your home can effect your allergies and asthma (or here for another).  

Want to learn how to save on SAFE laundry, follow Part 2!

In the meantime, checkout ALL the Great Get Clean Products!

Teaching….One of the Hardest Jobs!

Being a teacher is one of the best and hardest jobs.

I remember when I graduated college and everyone asked the same question, “What are you going to do now?”  I graduated in December and was fortunate to line up my first teaching job to begin immediately—as in the last three days of the year before Christmas break began!

When you tell people you are a teacher, their first response is generally “You have to love your schedule!  I’d love to have the whole summer off and be home at 3 every day.”  You are right-teachers have a great schedule, 8-3 (or something to that sort).  And yes, teachers get the summer off, but do you realize what they do not get off or what they give up or what they really do outside of those “great working hours?”

Teachers give up the ability to clock out at 3 and leave work at work.  Do you realize how much grading, planning, and even researching a teacher does at home?  I know what you are thinking, “That’s what their planning period is for?”  Have you asked a teacher what he/she does on her planning?  MEETINGS—team planning, discipline discussions, grade level meetings, parent meetings, IEP meetings, etc.  The list can go on! What about the pre-service days before school starts or teacher workdays?  Well…let’s say, staff development, teacher-parent conferences, meetings, data collecting, workshops, etc.  You name it, teachers have to do it.  Anything but what they NEED to do.

Teachers give up the ability to be worry-free.  Teachers have a lot of kids.  And a good teacher genuinely cares about all of her students (could be as small as 15 kids or over 200).  As a middle school teacher on block scheduling, I had roughly 3 classes with 25-30 kids in each.  When I was at a school with a normal schedule, I had 6 classes with about 30 kids in each class.  Yeah….180 students that were my responsibility to teach math to every day.  Teachers (most of them) care about each student.  They genuinely want to help them learn, grow as a person, and develop character.

Teachers give up their health.  Do you know how many germs all these precious students pass around?  Not only do teachers get to enjoy these wonderful germs, but teachers are generally more stressed during the school year.  They are planning, grading, teaching, and parenting all their students.  Do I need to mention the demands of No Child Left Behind, Common Core Standards, and whatever else your state, district, or school requires you to do?  All this plus they have their families to take care of, cook for, plan for, spend time with, teach, and much more.

I taught at three different schools.  One was your high income, top-notch school with parents who gave me a $500 budget when I began mid-year and told me to pick anything I wanted for my classroom.  Every Friday, parents brought us coffee/hot chocolate and donuts to our room during announcements.  75% of my students gave me gifts for Teacher Appreciate Week and even at Christmas when they only knew me for 3 days!  Then I taught at a low-income inner-city school.  A school that the state of Maryland’s Dept. of Education took over, let all teachers go, and hired a brand new staff.  A school where over 75% of the students received free lunch, a school where fights were daily, drugs was common, and most all my students had one parent, no parents, were in and out of foster homes, and even homeless.

I remember my first day at that school it was four years ago this August.  I called my husband at my lunch break and was ready to quit.  I already had a student throw a desk across my room and three get in my face and scream every cuss word possible.  But when I left that school, I was heartbroken to receive sweet letters from students about how much I meant to them, how much I cared, how much they learned from me.  Those letters, those students, those moments, make teaching one of the best jobs.

As your children go back to school, remember how much their teachers are giving up to teach your children, care for your children, and be responsible for your children while in her care.  She is your eyes and ears for 7-8 hours every day for the next 180 days.  She is giving up a lot of personal time and family time to plan for and prepare for her daily job to teach your children.  She is stressing over who is struggling with reading, who is in 8th grade math but still can’t add 8 + 6 without counting on their fingers, she is worrying about the students in a bad home situation or with no home, she is wondering when the state is going to “let go” those teachers not meeting a high enough passing rate on the state tests that are now changing due to the new Common Core Standards, and she is wondering when the government will pass a new budget to decrease her pay or cut more jobs.

To my teacher friends–thank you for your hard work.  Thank you for caring about the kids in your classrooms and for desiring to give them the best education you are allowed to give them.  Thank you for your hard work, all the time you sacrifice, and for the passion you have about education. You do this because you care, because we all know that after you pay for gas, classroom expenses out of your own pocket, and childcare (If you have small children), you bring home little to nothing!  To my homeschooling moms–You are a teacher who may not have as many students to take care of and plan for, but you are planning, preparing, and giving up other things to have the ability to teach your own children at home.  You are learning all over again as you teach your children.  You spend time researching curriculum, finding bargain deals on them, and preparing to teach multiple grade levels in the “One Room School House.”  You are wearing many hats–wife, mother, and teacher!

Now….let the school year begin!

2013 – 2014 Curriculum

If you follow all the wonderful Homeschool Blogs, you will know that this week is Curriculum week.  All the bloggers are posting what curriculum they are using for this school year.  The joy of homeschooling is that it can change each year and even in the middle of the year.  If something is not working, we stop, re-evaluate, and start again.  I Over the past six months, I have purchased a lot of curriculum and supplies.  However, I purchased them on sale, used, or a great prices!  Some things will be used this year and next year.  I cannot see Lenna-Grace getting through it all now. We are primarily doing Kindergarten work.  Therefore, I’m expecting us to take a year and half.  She may do well and we finish it in one school year.  Again…the joy of homeschool, if she is ready, we will do 1st grade next year!  If not, we will continue with the Kindergarten curriculum.

2013 – 2014 Curriculum
Lenna-Grace (4K/5K)
Phonics/Reading – All About Reading Level 1
Mathematics – Singapore 1A US Edition
Handwriting – A Reason for Handwriting K
Bible – Grapevine Traceable (Old Testament) and ABC Bible Verses book
Catechism Memory – Truth and Grace book
Memory Work – Classical Conversations (will post later about this)
Art – Draw Write Now
History, Science, and Geography – Sonlight P4/5 Readers (We purchased Sonlight Readers before deciding to do CC and when I thought I would be expecting another baby because of the amazing amount of literature and the ease of the Instructor’s Guide.  Instead of returning it, which I could, I opted to keep it for the reach literature and to supplement with it)

Zachary (Preschool)
Letter of the Week – Pre-Reading
Handwriting (he is my leftie) – Handwriting Without Tears My First School book

Zachary will do Bible and Art with Lenna-Grace as well.  He will also get to enjoy the Sonlight books.

I have planned our first six weeks fully.  I have also planned the Letter of the Week, Handwriting, Catechism, and Bible time for the year.  Why?  I tried to correlate them all.  I putting the Grapevine Studies with the Timeline we will be doing with CC.  Our memory verse will come from the ABC Bible Verses book and correlate with our Handwriting letter of the week and Zachary’s Letter of the Week Pre-Reading program.  Basically–we will be doing a Letter each week and the kids will be doing handwriting for that letter, a memory verse to go with it, and phonics (Zachary) for it.)

Kicking Off Our First Year!

I am super excited because August is here!  I guess technically we could have started our school year whenever we wanted; however, since Jamie goes to public school, it seemed best to tie our schedule with his.

Tomorrow is our Meet the Tutor event for Classical Conversations.  This is our first year homeschooling and we decided to join a CC community.  I was not really sure about it.  I thought it may be too early, but Lenna-Grace really wants to learn and go to school.  Going to CC once a week will be something she really enjoys.  Plus, you can never start to early with memory work I am sure!  I am also the tutor for her class.  I am very excited to be learning with her and working with the families in our class.  This will be an adventure for us both!

We are beginning our official “First Day” of school on August 19.  I plan on doing school work with Lenna-Grace at least three times a week (Monday, Thursday, and Friday).  Wednesday will be our CC days and Tuesdays I have Women’s Bible study at the church in the morning, so they will do childcare there.  The goal is to really work at her pace, but also teach her some discipline when it comes to education and learning already.  We may work for two hours straight through or we may do a couple of 30 minute intervals.

Why Start Now?

I know many homeschool families do not begin formal education at 4-years old.  I definitely do not think it is necessary.  However, Lenna-Grace is eager to learn.  Tonight while we were just sitting on the couch she brought me a book and wanted to work on “learning to read.”  Before I knew it, she was reading a sentence with little help.  She is ready to learn, wants to learn, and definitely able to learn.

What Are We Doing?

Lenna-Grace will be doing Classical Conversations (another post later) for memory work, phonics, handwriting, Catechism, Bible time, math, and then for any science and history we will be reading literature-based books together.

Zachary will be doing Letter of the Week for Pre-Reading skills, introductory handwriting concepts, and will do Bible and Catechism with us as well.

Dalton will be just enjoying whatever he can get into in the school room while we learn!  Probably throwing toys–his new favorite thing!

Why Is Jamie In Public School?

This is a great question everyone asks!  Jamie has been in public for years now!  Our goal is to homeschool him as well.  When we moved to Florida last March, he was homeschooled for about four months.  Jamie struggles with having all the little ones around while trying to work.  The noise and distractions really get to him.  And John is correct that it puts more of a strain on our relationship (mine and Jamie’s) than it did help him educationally.  However, we have been discussing homeschooling him next year when he begins high school.  I have been looking into various curriculums and options that would allow him to learn independently through reading (He is an AMAZING reader).  However, his teacher (who works with those with physical impairments) has spoken to me a lot about the local high school’s program for students similar to Jamie–where they work on more life skills and community involvement.  In fact, in 11th grade, they place in them (and take them and watch them) at a local business to learn job skills (like TJ Maxx, Public, etc).  Therefore, this is something we really have to discuss to see what is best for Jamie.