Saturday, August 12, 2017

Holden's Birth Story

This birth story is one that's taken me about two months to process. It was a strangely intense but sobering experience; it wasn't what I was expecting for my third natural birth.

Two points to preface; I had my two previous children unmedicated, in the water, at stand alone birth centers. Click over and you can read Penny's and Ruby's. Throughout my pregnancy my midwife, who is a mother of four, mentioned that third babies tend to be a total gambit. Their births are so different from the previous two and from any future babies. I waited, curiously, to see how that would unfold. The second point, which I mention in full anonymity but want to include it in my story because it made a bigger impact on me than I had expected. The evening before I went into labor I learned that a friend had lost her precious baby girl to SIDS.

In the early morning of 40 weeks and 3 days I went into labor after having a bit of prodomal labor for the past week. That previous night my husband's aunt had arrived to stay with us for a week and I took a bath before bed. At 3:40am I was awoken by 90 second contractions that were spaced about 3-4 minutes apart. I probably had been laboring in my sleep and it was the real ones that woke me up. They weren't painful; they caught my attention and given my very fast birth with Ruby - I wanted my midwife to know right away.  My waters had broken but it wasn't a gush as it had been with my first birth. My midwife, Eloisa, agreed that it would be a good idea to carefully pack up and head over. My bag had already been ready for a few weeks, so all we needed to do was pack a few last minute essentials, tell "Nana" that we were headed out.  Let me tell you what a huge relief it is when you are in labor and you know your other children are well taken care of and they don't even need to be moved. When they would awake that morning, they would already be big sisters!

It was about 5:00 am on that Saturday morning when we drove the 20 minutes to my stand alone birth center; The Bellingham Birth Center in Bellingham, WA. My contractions weren't making me anxious. In fact, I was pretty damn chill. Chill enough to ask my husband to stop at the closest coffee stand to get us lattes and muffins. We laughed, said "#3rd baby!" What a difference this was from our first birth; when we got pulled over by a police officer and I yelled at him to either give us a ticket or to let us go...

We pulled in to the birth center at 5:30 and checked in. It's a small historic home that was tastefully converted into a birth center and a very comforting place to me. It has two birth suites and I could hear that there was another mama-to-be laboring in the other room - which was a first for me, in all of my appointments and hours of labor and post-partum through 3 children to be in the birth center while another mama was actively laboring. It is interesting to hear another woman in labor! Unfortunately for this mama, she was sent home a little later. She came in a bit too early.

Eloisa let us settle in and my husband hooked up my cell phone to their stereo and turned on the Pandora station we had been jamming out to lately (Mumford and Sons). I paced and sat on the bed while Eloisa prepped her paperwork too. I was feeling great, calm and relaxed. I was already pleased that this wasn't a "drop everything and run" kind of birth that I was preparing myself for. I was at the birth center, in the place that I wanted to have my son, and I was content. Whatever else was thrown at me - I'm fine. In retrospect, I was too comfortable and fine!

I pace some more, leaking my waters and working through contractions that were becoming more intense. But I quickly was able to overcome that discomfort and whatever position or action that I was doing would quickly become tolerable. Eloisa thought it would be worthwhile to check where I was at, and we discovered that my cervix was pulled back a bit, which was not helping baby boy get into the best position. She had me straddle the birth stool and during a contraction she pulled my cervix forward to help. No surprise, this was not my favorite thing to do, and I believe she had to do it two or three more times during the course of my labor.

Pretty soon I was over pacing, leaning over a couch arm and using the birth stool. I had my daughters in the water and I was wanted to get in. So I labored there for several hours...and AGAIN it was just too comfortable! My dear friend That Mama Gretchen had given me some protein cookies that I stashed into my labor bag so those got brought out and they were amaze-balls (G - I will be needing that recipe!). I asked my husband to send her a text just to emphasize how delicious they were. So there I was, relaxing in the birth tub, laughing, eating cookies and contracting a bit. The perfect image of a mother in labor, right? No. I wasn't getting anywhere!

As I process this experience I know that this stall in my labor was because of the position of my cervix and because of my emotional state. I wasn't excited, I was calm. Peaceful. Patient. Too patient. I don't feel like my head was in the game. I didn't push myself to make the contractions more intense because I didn't want him to come too soon. I knew my body would do what it needed to do. But a question that I ask myself often is "where was my heart in all of this?"

Around noon Eloisa gave me a couple homeopathics to encourage more labor and I used a sling in which I hung my upper body on and lunged through contractions using a stool. For my second birth I had done something similar just doing lunges on the edge of the outside of the tub. Angry contractions for a few minutes, and again - I adapted and it wasn't working anymore.

The final try was to lay on my side in the bed with three pillows stacked between my knees; around noon. WOW that was working! And with vengeance! I lost track of time, but got into the mode of labor where I contracted hard and slept for the couple minutes between contractions. Eloisa gave me some saline to help boost me along. Finally I began roaring through my contractions and I knew it was time to start pushing. And push I tried.

Nothing was happening.

I know the feeling of bearing down and pushing a baby out. I knew what was coming. And nothing was happening; I was pushing with all of my might and I felt no progression. I must have gotten those words out, and all at once I realize that there is a mask being put onto my face. I thought it was nitrous, which is used for pain management and I tried pushing it away (it was my husband who was placing it there). He resisted and kept the mask there. I was hyperventilating and it was oxygen, but I was in "the labor zone" of my consciousness and wasn't really listening to what was being said to me. He was pressing the mask to my face and providing counter pressure to my back that I was asking him for. He was right in the middle of the hardest moments of my life.

Quickly Eloisa tells me that baby's heart rate is down, even with the oxygen, and I need to get on all fours. His head was out (I didn't know this) and I quickly flipped onto my knees. More roaring pushes, not having the sensation I was expecting. I could hear Eloisa say calmly and quietly to the birth assistant to call the paramedics; just in case. She then reached in and pulled my son out.

It was but the smallest moment in time; but to me it was an eternity. The sounds were muffled to me, but I could hear Eloisa saying "call them, he's not responsive." She gives him a puff of oxygen and tells me - "talk to your son. He needs to hear you." I scream in pure terror and agony; all I could think of was the precious baby that my friend had lost just a day earlier. My husband whispers in my ear, "His name is Holden. Talk to Holden," and I scream to him, reaching out to touch him and Eloisa exclaims happily "HE'S FINE!" The paramedics never had to come because everything was fine. I was fine, he was fine.

From that point on everything was normal. He pinked up, he came to me and I hugged him so tight. We nursed. My husband, so physically and emotionally exhausted, quickly settled down next to us on the bed and napped.

A couple hours later Eloisa asked if she may weigh him and he came in a whopping 9 lbs 9 oz. No one was expecting a baby of this size because my larger daughter had been 8 lbs at birth. I didn't have an unusual weight gain. I ate healthily with the guilty pleasure of chocolate, but who could deny me? Besides the difference of having a boy, I don't really have an explanation of why he weighed so much more than his sisters had. But I am thankful for the 11 hour labor, my frustrating patience, even my difficult cervix because it helped extend the length of my labor and give my body time to accommodate a larger baby and of course - the skilled hands of my birthing team.

I have hesitated telling that final part of the story. I know that for many people that may give a sense of fear; maybe that I was extremely lucky and should have been in the hospital. Risk occurs everywhere. My pregnancy was extremely low risk and a stand alone birth center and midwife wouldn't accept an at risk mother. Births are unpredictable and that's kind of what is so magical about them. In processing this experience and speaking with my sister in law, who is a labor & delivery nurse, she had helped me reframe the part that scared me - that he was "unresponsive." "Babies born naturally and of that size are just born stunned. Imagine what they went through to be born. They just need a minute to catch up," she told me. It changed my perspective from one of fear to acceptance of the norm. Sure, it was hands down the scariest moment of my entire life, but does it mean that I've failed or made a foolish decision to have my child away from a hospital? No. He was born into the hands that he needed to be; hers were the ones that God knew would be the best to guide him here. I don't think there is enough thanks that I could give this woman for what she did for us.

Two months later and Holden is such an amazing addition to our family. The love that his sisters lavish upon him is without a doubt the sweetest thing I have ever seen.

As a final note, one part of a lot of births that is overlooked is how the dad is doing. In our case, Adam had taken the front row seat for all of my births but this one was particularly intense.  Pushing the mask onto my face, seeing his wife do the birth exactly as she was supposed to and not being able to get the baby out, and the final adrenaline spike of his first moments in life. Personally I felt completely fine and was recovering normally after getting Holden in my arms, but dads are a different creature. I experienced it, but he SAW it all. Be sure to give the daddy the opportunity to process as well. 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

10 New Baby & Parent Memes

So if you've been hanging in there with me, you've seen my 10 end of pregnancy memes. One guarantee that my midwives were able to make was that my baby WILL come out, and so he did! 

My birth story will be published soon, but as you know - so here I am - in the throes of new parenthood and the newborn phase. It's so sweet - the little coos, that fresh baby smell, the snuggles and loves. And then there's the other 23 1/2 hours of your day - where you are in a fine balance of exhaustion and elation. 

One of the greatest gifts I received at the end of my pregnancy was all the extra sleep. I have NO idea how that happened with a 3 and 5 year old, but somehow the Good Lord decided that after almost 6 years of unrestful sleep, I deserve a little break in preparation for little boy. I'll miss it.

Anyone else have babies who don't follow your predetermined, perfected schedule? Or better yet - older siblings??

So true. Labor and birth are meant to be hard, but the end result is so, so worth it.

I'm hoping it's a little sooner than that, but many nights I feel like I'm pretty close to falling off the edge of reality.
This is especially true for cloth diapered babies when you start a wash.

I had 4 friends who were due in the same week as I was - and 3 of them delivered their babies at 38 and 39 weeks. Every baby comes on their own time, but seriously... did that put a bee in my bonnet to get this baby out faster.

I feel like this is a serious piece of flair that parents need to get on their vests. Do you remember how insanely exhausted you were in the first week after baby was born? How you reverted to an almost primal response to everything in life because all civility had been washed away?

I think babies are born absolutely adorable and sweet smelling so that their parents can forgive them for the lack of sleep. That first time that baby locks eyes with you, smiles or coos... that suddenly makes it all worth it. For a minute.

As a veteran mama of three I know that struggle. And I've apparently chosen to do it two more times after experiencing it the first time; just like Katniss seemed to wind up back in trouble with the Hunger Games series.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

10 End of Pregnancy Memes

Ahh, that delightful final month of pregnancy. That time where you are finely balanced between feeling like a Mother Earth Goddess and some kind of mammal wallowed in a tar pit (that is your bed). All women experience the "end of pregnancy" jitters; where we personally ask ourselves every minute of every day if today is going to be that day, how much longer do we think we'll be pregnant for, how will this labor go down, what are we going to do with our children and family members...the list goes on.

And, also, pretty much every woman goes through the very infamous end of pregnancy rite - the endless barrage of well meaning "how are you feeling?" and "are you in labor yet?" questions.

So as an ode to you, fellow mamas in the home stretch, a compilation of end of pregnancy and labor memes for you.

Your friends do their best and just stalk your facebook profile for newborn pics, like normal people. But when it's a soon-to-be-grandparent, suddenly you are the most interesting thing in their lives and not only are you getting the non-chalant "so how's your day been?" you also get the frantic response of "is everything ok??" when you call them just to ask how their day is going. Because you are the one who is waiting on a baby, possibly quite bored and wanting to get out of your own head for a few minutes. Ladies and Gents (particularly grandmas and grandpas), this is why women start leaving their phones in different rooms at the end of their pregnancies. Our phone is blowing up daily with dozens of well-meaning check ins. So don't freak out when it's been 12 hours since we've responded to your text, m'kay?

And this is the look on my face when I get those well-meaning texts and PMs.

This is my third pregnancy and let me tell you - the logistics of birth are crazy no matter what. But when you combine your schedule, your partner's schedule, your birth team's schedule and on top of that have to consider where your other children are going to be during that time.. Oh man. Did I tell you that my husband and I have like 6 contingency plans based on what time of day, or which day, I go into labor? Who will be available at what time to pick up the kids? Who is "on call" all day and night?

I'll just leave it at that.

I'm 39 weeks, with what feels like my largest baby. My own body is certainly larger than it ever has been, and while I'm totally ok with that and am working on channeling my inner-birth-goddess vibe...sometimes I catch myself in the mirror and do a double take.

Any mama who has had extended pre-dromal labor knows all about this. My baby #2 gave me start-stop labor for a week consistently from 1-4am every night. Turns out - the cord was a little short so she was getting hung up a little bit. Finally I went to my birth center and told my midwives that I'm not going home without a baby.

This was me last night. I was exactly 39 weeks, which gestationally was the same day that my first born was born. I pulled out all of my tricks - mowed the lawn, ate a whole pineapple, had spicy Thai curry for dinner, got my membranes swept, took a long, vigorous family walk. Dreamed about labor all night long. Did that baby come? Nooooooooooope.

This is going to be my go-to response if I go past my due date. Thanks, Dwight. You've always got the right answer for everything.

Poor orangutans! They seem to get the short end of the stick when it comes to pregnancy memes.

We're all feeling that way. So if you could just sit back, let me go into labor the way my body and birth team intend, that'd be greaaaaaaaaaat.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

This mom's pre-baby product list

It's week 37 of this edition of Pierogie Pregnancy! While my two previous children were not early by any means (39 weeks and 41 weeks), a little spot in my mind remains open to the idea that I just might have a baby boy in my arms in a week or two. Cue mind-splosion.

Nesting has been in full bore for about 2-3 weeks and I've been diligently knocking off items on my "end of pregnancy to do list," which I purposefully kept simple. Enjoy my baby showers, have my much anticipated special run Natibaby carrier arrive, refinish a dresser for baby boy, prepare our guest room for about 6 weeks worth of guests, get the big sisters into their swanky new bunk bed and truly the most important and probably time consuming task - organize all the baby things.

Having 3 kids in the span of 5 years does help you stream line a lot of things. Through baby #2 I quickly realized what worked for us and what I don't really need to hold on to. Hallelujah for consignment sales! I have been able to periodically destash baby items through out the years and recoup some cash and valuable space thanks to those. But, even though it's only been 3 years since my last pregnancy, some fun new items come onto the market that weren't on my radar before. So let me share with you a few of the new products that have caught my eye and landed on my "pre-baby product list."

The Dockatot was something that kept popping up on my facebook feed and I was really intrigued by the idea. We are a bed-sharing family and I typically sleep with my kids full-time until they are night weaned; around 18 months. We practice safe sleep methods that are essential for bed-sharing and thus there aren't a whole lot of products that fit in for making any of it easier. The Dockatot is an all cotton sleeping pad with bolstered sides, which creates a safe microclimate for the baby.  A concern I had with bed sharing with the baby this time around is that in the last year we have switched to an all-foam, no spring mattress and that doesn't provide air circulation as well as it should for bed sharing. I'm excited to share our full review once baby is here! Already shopping? Save $10 on DockaTot here.

And while we're on the topic of safe sleep, I wanted to mention that I've been doing a ton of research on mattresses and safe materials for children ever since we upgraded our 5 and 3 year old daughters from two toddler beds to their "you'll have this until you move out" bed set - a twin over full bunk. Buying the bed frame was the easy part; the hardest part was finding that balance between comfort, quality of materials, affordability and safety in the mattresses! We found My Green Mattress to fit all of those qualifiers! Even though it's not exactly a traditional "pre-baby" item, everyone goes mattress shopping and at some point you'll definitely be asking yourself the same questions when shopping for your children's mattresses that I did- so stay tuned for that update as well! Already shopping? Save 5% on any My Green Mattress using code WELCOME5.

How do you take care of your body immediately following birth? With my last child I experienced an interesting tear that made me so so thankful that I decided to give cloth menstrual pads a try. Cloth pads, or mama cloth, are really easy to use especially when you are already cloth diapering your baby. You just wash your pads along with the diapers (pre-rinse if that's important to you). Oko Creations has your back (well, bottom). I've reviewed their pads in the past and they still are my favorite pads to buy. The material is the most absorbent I've ever used and the quality is amazing.

One of my favorite gifts from my baby shower was not for baby at's all for me! Well, and the family. Have you jumped on the instant-pot train? I have never cooked with a pressure cooker but a few of my friends of 2+ kids have raved that this is the must have item for streamlining family meals. Several of my gal pals pooled together and gifted one for our family. I'm so excited to try out new recipes! So far I've tried Beef Stroganoff, shredded chicken, white sticky rice (ahhhhhhmaaaaaaaaayzzzzing) and Mexican Rice (honestly, I prefer my old school dutch oven way though). Apparently one can make creme brulee using an IP so that is certainly going to happen in my near future! I'm thinking it'll either be a "my baby is late, leave me alone" or "he's here!!" dessert.

It's really interesting how one's parenting transforms over several children. For my first daughter - a stroller was a believed must have. Everyone needs a stroller for their baby, right? We used our stroller a lot as we lived in neighborhoods that had sidewalks and we took family strolls quite often. With baby #2, I was getting more into babywearing and she rode in the stroller very rarely - she always preferred uppies and the stroller became our diaper bag carrier whenever we were out on trips. With baby #3, living in the country without sidewalks in sight, and having more or less streamlined my diaper bag to the bare essentials, we are actually selling our stroller and just babywearing exclusively. Over the last couple years I've gotten into woven wraps and have always loved soft structured carriers so this time I jumped in on a very special co-op through Natibaby and got a SSC in standard and toddler size of the Seattle skyline! Squeee!!

Are you expecting? What are a few of your must haves that you're excited about?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Some of the products are upcoming collaborations that will be featured on The Pierogie Mama in the future. I receive items in exchange for my honest review, but no other compensation was provided. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Apothecary Spa in Anacortes WA

It's Baby Boy Pierogie's 35th week of pregnancy, y'all! As my time is drawing to a close my to-do list gets more and more intense. Prenatal appointments mixed in with my kids' appointments that I'm trying to get out of the way so that the next six months or so we don't have to worry, swimming lessons, end of school year stuff, consignment sales, you name it. And while things like baby showers are awesome milestones that mean baby boy is one step closer to being here, this mama is bone tired and sore at the end of the day.

So what is one of my favorite end of pregnancy must do? A prenatal massage, of course!

Tucked away on teeny tiny Fidalgo Island (Washington) is a little town that I love called Anacortes. Over the last 10 years I have visited often as my in-laws live there and it's just such a beautiful place. I honestly think that the weather is somehow always great in Anacortes; it's got to be the quickly changing pace of the winds of this little port town. From Anacortes you can take ferries to the San Juans and Victoria B.C. There are tons of delicious seafood joints, bakeries, thrift stores and antique shops to peek around in.

One of my favorite places to visit periodically has been the historic building of the Majestic Inn and Spa. Anacortes was founded in 1891 and the Majestic Inn, though it has had several job changes, remodels and restorations, brings Gilded Age beauty with modern luxury to 2017.  My husband and I have snuck away for anniversary lunches at their restaurant and my girlfriends and I have enjoyed lemon drops on their rooftop lounge. It's truly an amazing piece of Anacortes (and Skagit) history, but at the very least a beautiful building to look at.  A tidbit of information that I learned was that the whole building was relocated about 20 years after it was built by being rolled up the street on logs by a team of horses!

In addition to being a hotel and bistro, The Apothecary Spa is located on the second floor of the building and I have waited with so much anticipation for my chance to go experience what so many of my friends had told me to be "hands down the best spa ever!" That's a big pair of boots to fit into, don't you think? Let me tell you without a whole lot of gushy fluff (and quote me to your husband when he asks you what do you want for your birthday/Mothers Day/Christmas) - "The Apothecary Spa at the Majestic Inn in Anacortes IS the best spa ever!"

What are my qualifications? Well, I am no spa connoisseur (though I wish I could have a blog completely devoted to spa experiences) but I will say that my husband does the right thing and sends me for a massage or spa experience usually once or twice a year. I have maybe a dozen experiences to draw from, ranging from budget to swanky. However, The Apothecary Spa takes my #1 slot over several other very high quality (and more expensive) spas for a ton of reasons.

Let me give you a run down of my time there.

The Apothecary Spa encourages their guests to check in 15-30 minutes before their treatments to get changed into their robe and sandals, take a steam in their steam room (something I'll have to go back another time for, as it's not a good idea for us preggos), lounge in their sanctuary room and have a little snack and drink of various infused waters or teas. Which is exactly what I did!

The spa menu is vast; I will make note that although most spas offer a short list of "upgrades" such as paraffin treatments, choices of oils or different techniques, The Apothecary Spa had a robust list of enhancements that in my opinion fully rounded out my 60 minute massage. In addition to my massage I opted to add eye brow waxing, a honey glaze treatment for my dry hands and a nourishing scalp massage.

Prenatal massages can be hit and miss. I've had a few massages in previous pregnancies where they were called "prenatal massages" but unfortunately they really didn't know how to arrange a very pregnant mama or how a woman's physiology changes and that it's a very different experience to get massaged late in pregnancy versus earlier on. My massage therapist, Cynthia, made sure that I had everything I needed to be supported while being massaged on my side and when I switched to laying on my back she adjusted the table to be tilted so I didn't feel the full weight of my belly pressing up onto my lungs. Her massaging technique was gentle but confident; there wasn't any hesitation or uncertainty of the elephant in the room and she very effectively massaged my whole body without the impression that she was afraid of my belly. When we chatted before my massage I asked for a full body massage with the focus on my back (as that is normally what aches most during pregnancy), but as she got to work I realized that really what I loved was getting my legs and feet rubbed - and she very fluidly switched to spending more time on that. Both of my girls were born in March so I guess I've never really had issues with swelling at the end of my pregnancy, but this time around I have definitely noticed the cankles making their appearance and Cynthia had the perfect technique of gently massaging those areas directly with oil and later switching to massaging over the draped blanket. I really want to go back just for that part!

Towards the end of the massage she let me know that she would be starting my honey glaze hand treatment followed by the scalp massage. She massaged my hands, applied the glaze and wrapped them in warm towels. While the glaze soaked in she started my scalp treatment. I'm a believer of the amazing uses for coconut oil, and have heard about using it as a hair and scalp treatment but have never done it personally - and Lordy I am hooked on this as well. She poured coconut oil along my hair line and then spent the next 20 minutes or so working it in through my whole scalp and base of my hair. Then she cleaned off my hands, gave me a whole decollete, arm and hand massage and finished off with another glaze on my feet and more massaging! Cynthia knows how to treat an expecting mama right!

After my treatments I was invited back into the sanctuary where I attempted to come down from my post-massage giddy high with a shred of maturity with another glass of cucumber + blueberry infused water. My experience was the perfect storm of truly needing some end of pregnancy pampering and an amazing spa staff. On my way home I called my mom, whom I would say probably is the closest person I know to being a spa connoisseur, and told her that I kind of need to get gift certificates for all my friends and family to go because there is no way you can go through life without experiencing this. There goes my attempts at quelling that "post-massage giddy high with a shred of maturity" spiel. But it wasn't said in haste - seriously. Go. Do it.

419 Commercial Avenue, Anacortes, WA

Disclosure: I received a complimentary massage in exchange for my honest review. 
All photography and opinions are my own. In case you couldn't tell, visiting The Apothecary Spa was the highlight of my third trimester and I can't say enough lovely things about it! 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Just Between Friends of Marysville-Mount Vernon Presale Sneak Peek!

This weekend is the Just Between Friends of Marysville-Mount Vernon consignment sale! Would you believe me if I told you that I shop for my two daughters' clothes just twice a year? It's true! The Just Between Friends consignment sales are all I need because there are literally thousands of items in all kids sizes that I can choose from in one place at amazingly low prices. Plus, I get to unload our outgrown clothes by consigning them as well!

So you can easily scan my blog to find out all the reasons why I love JBF, and one of my favorite things to do is make sure I get to shop early at the presale event by consigning. But don't worry - even if consigning isn't on your radar, the public sale is chock full of great stuff. Let me show you!

But first; my ever so sweet Ruby. Isn't she just darling? She admired herself in front of this vanity for a few minutes.

Tons of great babywearing gear at this sale! MeiTeis, a few woven wraps, Beco, Moby stretchy wraps and others.

And a kids wrap! Because babies wearing babies is the cutest thing ever.

Sorting through the books is one of my favorites. I always find something super old from my childhood and I feel like I need to rescue it.

Sports fan gear..need I say more?

And the girly stuff. Swoon! My wedding anniversary is on the 4th of July so I am always on the look out for cute patriotic outfits for the kids.

So many summer items. Mostly boys bikes this time, but I also snagged a plastic pool (you know the kind!) for my kids and their cousins to "whirlpool" in this summer.

So as you know, I have two daughters aged 5 and 3 and then baby boy is on the way for this summer. My 3 year old is lucky enough to get all of her sister's handmedowns from last summer, so I did very little shopping for her. My focus at this sale was bigger sizes for the 5 year old and adding to our growing stash of boy stuff.

One of my favorite things to do after a presale shop is to compare what I would have paid for my items if I had bought them in store and what I paid for them at JBF. It's ASTOUNDING.  I'm a fairly frugal person at heart, so spending a ton of money on kids clothing is really not my thing anyways, but I always give myself a pat on the back after shopping at JBF. Buying used clothes is important to me not only because of the cost savings, but because of the environmental impact as well. Think of all the resources we are using up because so few clothing items are passed on. And trust me, I'm a mom of almost 3 kids, I know that some clothes just can't be passed on. They've had a good life. And that's what textile drives are for! Most thrift stores that you can donate clothes to have an outlet for where their "unsellable" items get sent to and that includes textile recycling.


Taking a look at all the brands that I bought and running a comparison online, these same items for my 4T/5T daughter would have cost me $114 retail. Instead, I paid a whopping....

And SQUEEE! I got to venture into boy land for the first time ever! Our little Pierogie Boy has been immensely blessed by handmedowns from two families and our baby showers, so again, I don't have a ton of shopping to do for his arrival! But I had to pick up some cuteness at the sale.

The boy clothes blew me away.. $142! A few of the items I picked up were retailed a little pricier than I imagined.

And there you have it! So much to stock up on for this upcoming summer and beyond.

April 28 - 30, 2017
Skagit County Fairgrounds, Mount Vernon Wa
Find out more details on the full sale schedule here

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Just Between Friends of Marysville-
Mount Vernon. All photography and opinions are my own.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

80 lbs of chicken - 9 ways

Fresh chicken breasts are only $1.69 / lb! Use promo code WAYBACK. Valid until 11:59pm PST 8/9/17.
 Sign up for Zaycon Fresh to get your unbelievably fresh meat!  

Often I am asked how do I save money for my family. Our food budget is something that I rarely skimp on because I think it's one of the best investments we can make for ourselves. However, there are a ton of ways to be able to save money without skimping on quality.

I learned about Zaycon Fresh a few years ago and am a believer! We order chicken breast, chicken fritters, pork tenderloins, wild Alaskan Salmon and a few other meat products. 
The chicken breast comes fresh and straight from the farmer, so it ends up being a lot fresher than what you buy at the grocery store. For example, my last case of Zaycon Fresh chicken breast had a bar code with a time stamp for the butcher date that was 3 days prior to my receiving it. I recently went to my local grocery store to see what their time frame is - and their chicken was 15 days old and also had 3% water injected. It's really not much of a discussion on which chicken I prefer to buy!

What is Zaycon Fresh? It's super easy. You sign up, enter in your zip code and it will populate "events" near you. Each event will bring fresh or frozen meets to an agreed upon place and time. You place your order for what you'd like and then on the day of the event you bring your order slip and they put your case of bulk meats in the trunk of your car for you. You don't even have to get out of the car! Throughout the year they will offer different products; such as delicious bacon, fresh ground beef, fresh chicken breasts, frozen breaded chicken fritters (I like to make this), select steaks, even turkey and ham! Our all time favorite is their salmon. They are constantly adding more.

When you sign up, they'll send you non-spammy newsletters letting you know what they're adding, great recipe ideas and you can refer friends to get credit for your next purchase. Truly, I haven't bought meat any other way for a long time now.

Ok but then the question comes up with what do I do with 40 lbs of fresh chicken breast? Friends, let me show you what I did for this last order, which I am using to prepare for Baby Boy due this summer.

First, when I receive my chicken I cut it down to different sizes to help spread the meat a little further. Each lobe of chicken breast becomes a cut of breast, a tender and I slice the breast to an even thickness and save the top portion as a "cheek," which is great as Chicken Parmesan Cutlets.  For our family of 2 adults and 2 small kids I package a dinner meal either as 2 breasts, 5 tenders or 6 cutlets. I also use a Foodsaver instead of freezer bags. For each of the recipes below I used 1/4 c of marinade per "dinner package." Some of the recipes are larger than others so adjust the ratios as you need. 

Without further adieu, here are my most recently used recipes:
Brown Sugar Balsamic Chicken

I used about 1/4 c of marinade per 2 breasts.

Lemon Garlic
Chicken TacosUsing a grinder attachment, grind your chicken breasts
taco seasoning recipe

Chicken Enchiladas

1 large can of enchilada sauce
directions: boil your chicken breasts, shred them either with forks or with the paddle attachment on your kitchen aid, pour the sauce in! Freeze the meat as is or prep into enchiladas and freeze individually.

Tangy Teriyaki:
2T of grated fresh ginger
1/4 cup Kikkoman Teriyaki Sauce
makes enough for 2 breasts

"Hawaiian Style"  / Moana1 can of sliced pineapple
2 cups of orange juice
4T ketchup
4T soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
2T of grated fresh ginger
1/4 c olive oil
1/4 c Balsamic Vinegar 

Tangy BBQ
1/2 c Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce
4T ketchup 
2Tbrown sugar
4T balsamic vinegar
1 cup chicken stock

Lime Sweet Thai Chili1 c stock
1 bottle sweet thai chili sauce
1/4 c lime juice

Spiced Rub with Apple Cider Vinegar2t paprika
1t chili powder
1t cumin
1t thyme
1t salt
1t garlic powder
1t pepper
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
Mix all of the ingredients, pour over 12 chicken breasts and rub it in. It should be a loose paste.

Ready to save some moolah? Sign up here

Monday, April 3, 2017

My hometown favorite - Just Between Friends Marysville - Mount Vernon Spring Sale

Hey Skagit Mamas!

My little family and I have officially lived in Skagit County for A YEAR and I am reminded of this because my first blog post last year about our move was also about the Just Between Friends Marysville - Mount Vernon Spring Sale! Since then we have gotten to know the community a lot better, have completed a year of pre-school, Awana, met local readers and found all the awesome places for kids to explore (especially to break up those winter blues and cabin fever).

Now that Spring is here, and I literally looked out my window for a break of rain and a hope of sunshine, I am ready to start prepping for warmer weather. I've been going through the girls' clothes - and in more exciting news; thinking ahead of our upcoming Summer Baby BOY - I am looking forward to this edition of my local JBF sale.

So you already know from following my blog that I love JBF for many reasons; it saves us money, it saves the environment and supports local families too. I've been a shopper and consignor for the better part of 5 years and my consignor check sort of rolls into the next sale for what I'm going to need to buy for the next size up for my kids. It's such a blessing to not have to worry about that sort of thing.

Over the years I've seen a ton of stuff for sale at these events and I am always surprised with something new. One year I got a play circus tent, which has been perfect for summer outdoor imaginary play. I've gotten tons of Disney Store brand clothing at a fraction of the cost. Keens & Crocs shoes are a staple in my house and I always am shopping for bigger sizes and consigning the smaller ones, because those shoes are seriously indestructible and work well in our climate for most of the year. "Standard" items in my two girls wardrobe is always leggings, long sleeve and short sleeves, Columbia style zippies and sweat shirts - also really easy to find and shop around for an awesome deal; usually $3-4 a piece. Pretty soon I know we'll be entering the arena for sporting equipment and from what I've seen the selection and condition are great at these sales.

Do I need to go on to show you just how pumped I am??!! 

The Just Between Friends Marysville - Mount Vernon team is partnering with me to get two winners an awesome prize package - each winner will get a PRIME TIME PASS + $10 JBF bucks to spend at the sale!! Woop woop! The prime time pass gets you in the door as early as Thursday April 27 from 3pm - 9pm, but if you can't make it that day you can shop anytime during the sale and still be able to use your JBF bucks. So check out the giveaway widget below; remember there are tons of ways to increase your odds of winning by coming back daily too!

April 28 - 30, 2017
Skagit County Fairgrounds, Mount Vernon Wa

Find out more details on the full sale schedule here


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