Why is Sleep So Important?

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When you have a newborn, a sick child, or you just can’t sleep because your brain won’t turn off, it can be hard getting enough sleep.  But, how much sleep is really enough sleep?  And, how important is sleep really?  Why do we need sleep?  And, what happens when we don’t get enough sleep?

Sleep has been a struggle for me since my first child was born over 9 years ago.  Even after each of my babies started sleeping through the night, it was still hard getting to bed and falling asleep at a decent hour.  So, I’ve been through the effects of sleep deprivation, and it’s really no joke.

Sleep is important.  Not getting the sleep your body needs each night to refresh itself can lead to some serious side-effects.  These are just a few that I’ve experienced.

  1. Loss of Energy:  This, of course, is a given.  If you’re not getting sleep, you’re going to be tired and lack energy.  Depending on the severity of sleep deprivation, it may be difficult to keep moving throughout the day.  Your eyes may feel heavy, as well as the rest of your body at times.
  2. Irritability:  To put it plainly, you’re going to be crabby.  Just like a two year-old who misses a nap, it’s going to be tough keeping your emotions in check.  This can lead to a strain on relationships in addition to feelings of self-hatred and guilt.
  3. Depression:  When you feel tired and crabby all the time, it can be easy to slip into a state of depression.  When you feel depressed, you lose the desire to be social and can isolate yourself from others.  Again, not a good thing for relationships and even worse for your mental health.  This can also lead to a vitamin D deficiency if you’re not getting out of the house.
  4. Weakened Immune System:  That’s right!  Not getting enough sleep can make you sick!  And, everyone knows that being sick can disrupt whatever precious amount of sleep you do get.  So, this can get serious pretty fast if you don’t fix the problem.  No amount of vitamins and/or medicine, as great as those are, will help you out here if you’re not getting that much needed rest.
  5. Loss of Concentration:  Since your body hasn’t been given enough time to rework the wiring in your brain during sleep, you can suffer from what I call a fuzzy brain.  It can be hard concentrating on important tasks when you feel like your head was just stuffed with cotton or you have a few screws loose in there.

The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Your Body

 

So, how do we combat against sleep deprivation?  First, I think we need to look at the underlying causes.  The reason for my sleep deprivation may be different from yours and everyone else, but here are a few of the main ones.

crying_baby

  1. Stress/Anxiety:  This is a big one and it can come in all different forms.  What it really comes down to, though, is how your mind/body is handling life and everything it throws at you.  This was the main one for me this past year, since there are many things in my life I have little or no control over right now.
  2. Responsibilities:  Sometimes it’s a sick child that needs tending to, or maybe it’s a project that needs to be completed.  Whatever it is, you’re responsible for it/them and you’re losing sleep as a result of that responsibility.
  3. Caffeine/Sugar:  How’s your diet?  When you’re feeling tired, it’s easy to reach for that extra cup of coffee and eat whatever is quick and easy.  This is another one I struggle with.  I love a hot cup of coffee with flavored creamer in the morning and I’m not very good at preparing healthy meals in advance.  Still working on this one.
  4. Disorder/Sickness:  Maybe it’s just a stuffy nose keeping you up or maybe it’s a little more complicated than that.  Getting uninterrupted sleep when there’s a battle going on in your body can seem impossible at times.

Now, think about what is keeping you up at night.  Is there anything you can do about it?

Yes!  There is hope! Take Your Pick.

  1. Take a vacation to relieve stress
  2. Write in a journal or pray to empty your brain before going to sleep
  3. Drink soothing tea like chamomile
  4. Cut back on caffeine and sugar and eat a well balanced diet
  5. Sticking to a routine can help everyone in your household sleep better
  6. The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night
  7. Cut back on screen time by limiting T.V and computer usage
  8. Get your heart rate up every day and make it fun!
  9. Get out of the house and into the sunshine
  10. See your doctor for more options

 

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How to Get Free Food from the Grocery Store

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Getting free food from the grocery store only takes about an hour of planning each week.  It’s a great way for us moms to contribute a bit to the family finances.  So, instead of just feeling like I’m always the one spending money, I can know that I’m doing my best to save the most on food.

 

5 Simple Steps to Getting Free Groceries

  1. Shop at a grocery store that has double coupon days and then plan to go shopping on those days
  2. Save the grocery store insert and in-store coupons that you get in the mail each week
  3. Look at all of the sales and specials and find manufacturers coupons to match the items that are on sale
  4. Take the sale price and subtract in-store coupons and doubled manufacturers coupons to get your final price
  5. Decide whether or not the end price is worth the purchase and add it to your shopping list

If you don’t have much time, but you’re curious about what some of the free items could be at your local grocery store, you can get a list at Money Saving Mom.  You can even sign up for their e-mail list that will keep you updated on the latest coupon match-ups for the week.  The lists aren’t always complete, but it’s a good place to start.  I usually find more products than what they have listed.

To find manufacturers coupons, you can look through your Sunday paper and/or find printable coupons online through Coupons.com, Save.com, ShopatHome.com, CouponNetwork.com, and through various social media and product sites.  You can always do a search for the specific coupon you’re looking for.

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Starting a Web Design and Development Business From Home

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We started our own business!

But, before I start talking about that, I wanted to bring you up to speed on the past couple months.

So, a lot has happened since I last posted.  In February, we found out that we will have our fifth child in October!  This news was a bit unexpected, yet we weren’t really surprised (if that makes sense).  Our world is about to change… again.  With four children already, all under the age of 8, our desire to home school has been replaced by our desire to keep our sanity.  So, we enrolled our oldest in the local public elementary school and our second-oldest will be in Kindergarten next year at the same school.  We hope to return to homeschooling when our youngest is 3 yrs old.  I will probably talk more about this in a future post.

How We Started a Web Design and Development Business From Home

Today, I would like to talk about how we started a Web Design and Development Business from our home.  My husband has been a web designer and developer for about 3 years now after taking just a few classes at the local technical college.  He has an eye for design (see his work at www.MashupMedia.net), a passion for front-end web development, and he has always wanted to start his own business.  Since I’ve already tested the waters with my own candle business a few years ago, I knew that we would make a great team.  Although I didn’t have the time anymore for my candle business, I knew I could handle most of the clerical side of the web design and development business while taking care of the kids.

Stuff to Consider

Before Jesse gave his two weeks notice to the company he was working for at the time, we had to first consider a few things.

Top 5 Things to Consider Before Starting a Home Business

  1. Where would he work?  We would have to get an office set up at home to start things off.  Once the business was making a profit, we would consider other options.*Update:  As of June 20th, he has officially moved into a great office space only a minute away from our home!
  2. How much do we need to invest of our own money?  Office supplies, accounting services, legal services, marketing, insurance, etc.*Update:  We have only invested about $600 from the beginning and have already paid ourselves back!
  3. What connections and resources can we tap into in order to secure an income for the first 6 months?  We have a family to support and can’t afford to lose money in the first year like most businesses.*Update:  Jesse was able to negotiate a contract with the first company he worked for.  The contract states that Jesse will be doing contract work on a regular basis for this company and in return would get paid bi-weekly.  This has given us the security we need.
  4. What will our business entity be?  Will we be a sole proprietor, partnership, LLC, or something else?*Update:  We started out as a single member LLC and have converted to an S-Corp since hiring our first part-time employee.
  5. Where should we set up our business accounts?  Keeping business transactions separate from personal ones is very important, so we had to set up a business checking and savings account.  We also shopped for a business credit card with a 0% intro rate and cash back on business purchases.*Update:  We’re still working on this, since we couldn’t open the account under the business tax ID number (the business has no credit yet!)  So, although we were able to open business accounts, we were unable to separate them completely.  Now that we are an S-corp and have been in business for almost three months, we should be able to switch the accounts over to the business tax ID  number.

We started the business April 1st and have been going strong since then.  A few small things we’ve done have brought us new clients and even more security for the future.

5 Easy Ways to Get Clients for Your Small Business

  1. Tell Your Friends and Family!  Get some nice looking business cards and hand them out to friends and family just to let them know you’ve started your own business.  You can spread the word on Facebook and Twitter too!
  2. Post an Ad on Craigslist.  You may need to experiment with wording and title choice when posting.  Delete your old post and make a new one every week or every month at the very least.
  3. Join a social networking group.  If you don’t have the time to get out and join a physical business networking group, at least join LinkedIn and start building a network that way.
  4. Make sure your own website is looking good and has a contact form for prospects to contact you.
  5. Make your current clients happy!!!!  Always, always, always, make sure your clients walk away happy with your work.  This will help with getting clients by word of mouth.

Well, I guess that’s it for now.  I’ve been working on this post for weeks now and should probably go ahead and publish it.  Hope y’all enjoyed it!

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Eating Healthy With Kids

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I have to confess, I most certainly have a sweet tooth and would be content to eat nothing but a bowl of ice cream for dinner.  But, ever since I had my first baby seven years ago, I’ve been struggling to be a good role model for my kids when it comes to eating healthy.  I may look like I have my eating under control, but even thin people struggle with the foods they eat.

We have everything at our finger tips here in the USA and in many other places around the world.  Just around the corner is a McDonalds, Culvers, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Dominos, and Dairy Queen!  I’m sure I’ve missed a few more fast food places in that list, but I’m sure you know how I’m feeling.  We all have to drive past those places on our way to school, work, the store, and even at the most vulnerable time when we’re all hungry after church on Sundays!  Am I right?  The kids never fail to ask if we could just stop for a while at McDonalds or get some ice cream at Dairy Queen.  The kid inside all of us would love to do that very thing every day.  But, we know exactly what that would lead to and we don’t want to go down that path.  Not only would our belts and budgets be busted, we would also experience the quantity and quality of life God has blessed us with diminishing with every cheeseburger and blizzard we buy.

There is a verse in scripture I was recently given a new perspective on.  Some parents take this verse to mean that if we teach our children about Christ, they will eventually believe and be saved.  I don’t, however, believe this verse has anything to do with salvation.

The verse is Proverbs 22:6 ESV

Train a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

I’m sure you’re asking “What does that have to do with healthy eating?”  I’m getting there!  You’ll just have to bare with me, ok?

When you see the word “train” in scripture, very often it is used when speaking of war.  Soldiers were trained for battle so they would have the best chance of survival.  Although in most cases we are not training our children for a real physical battle, the Bible talks about another type of battle.  James 4 addresses the war within us that wages each and every day.  It is a war of “passions.”

We need to be training our children to face these passions at an early age and overcome them.  We all know that it is much easier to develop good habits when we’re young than to try breaking bad habits when we are older.  I believe that is at the root of that verse.  If we train our children to eat healthy and develop other good habits, they will not depart from those good habits when they are older.

eating

We should be establishing these good habits to ensure a bright future for our children and their children.  Not only are we at war within ourselves, we are also at war as a nation.  Our country is fighting obesity, diabetes, depression, and so many more conditions that are fueled by the foods we eat and our lack of physical activity.  If we fight against these bad habits now, our children are less likely to struggle as we do.

Throughout my childhood, and now into my adulthood, I have struggled with a sugar/carb addiction.  I never established good eating habits and I am now paying for it.  While in high school, I used to eat Fruity Pebbles for breakfast and come home after school to devour a few scoops of my favorite ice cream or get a blizzard at Dairy Queen after Tennis practice.  Sugar was my reward for almost everything.  It was my reward for waking up in the morning!  And, don’t even get me started on my birthday favorites.  Ok, I’ll get me started.  My birthday included French Toast (made with Wonder Bread) piled high with butter and powdered sugar, Velveeta Macaroni and Cheese for lunch, and Pizza for dinner.  And, don’t forget the birthday cake made out of Oreos and Cool Whip!

You may be asking, “How are you not overweight?”  Well, the answer is very simple really.  I never ate large portions.  I would eat throughout the day in small portions.  This kept my metabolism up.  To this day, I still have a hard time finishing an entire meal.  It’s just not natural for me.

Although I may have my weight under control, my emotions have been taken on a rollercoaster.  When I eat nothing but carbs and sugar, I become very irritable and sometimes depressed.  My emotions are all over the place and I have a hard time focusing on tasks.  Being a Mom of four young children already keeps my emotions on high alert and keeps me from completing tasks.  I certainly don’t need to be feeding my frustrations with “crabby calories.”  Eating donuts in the morning for breakfast might be fun while you’re eating them, but just wait a little while after that and you’ll be more likely to snap at little Timmy for spilling his milk again.

 

It’s important to find a way to kick your sugar/carb cravings.

 

Teaching our children good manners, healthy eating, cleanliness, and self control at an early age will ensure a life of good habits and can even give them a better chance of survival in this world we live in.  A rude, unhealthy slob with no self control will not survive and thrive the way we want our children to.

 

Breaking Bad Habits

If you are one of the many people that struggle with a sugar addiction or you’re just looking for ways to change your families eating habits, here are a few simple steps you can take to become healthier.

Step 1:  Education

Get Educated!  Sit down as a family and watch a documentary on food and how it affects your health.  You can find some good videos at http://www.documentarystream.com/category/health/food/.  After you discover the facts as a family, discuss your findings.  Then, find some healthy recipes for meals you would all enjoy.

Step 2: Find Healthy Alternatives

Before you go on a rampage and throw out all of your favorite treats, you’ll want to take it one step at a time.  First, try replacing those treats with a healthier version of them.  I know these may cost more, but you are paying to keep the nutrients that your body uses to properly process the sugars.

 10 Healthy Alternatives to Kids Favorites

  1. Replace fruit snacks and gummy bears with dried fruit or Fruit Roll-Ups Simply Fruit Rolls
  2. Replace refined sugar with date sugar, a whole food sweetener made by simply grinding up dates.  Date sugar can be used to replace white sugar or brown sugar in most baked goods and it tastes just as sweet!   Check out my recipe for date brownies!
  3. Replace chocolate with carob chips or powder.  Read about the benefits of carob at http://amazinghealth.com/AH-health-carob-chocolate-methylxanthines
  4. Replace ice cream and yogurt with unsweetened fruit smoothies.  Try the recipe book Green Smoothie Recipes & other Healthy Smoothie Recipes to get you started.  Or, just come up with your own smoothie recipes and have fun with the kids!
  5. Replace regular peanut butter with Natural or Organic Peanut Butter with NO Sugar.
  6. Replace Pancake Syrup with 100% Pure Maple Syrup
  7. Replace Jams and Jellies with 100% Fruit Preserves
  8. Have designated “snack” times throughout the day to avoid hungry tummies and over eating at meal time.  Great snacks include fruit, string cheese, carrots, and dried fruit and nut mixes.  Read about the benefits of Snacking.
  9. Try to have your children help or just be in the kitchen with you while you are making dinner.  They will be more likely to eat what you’re making if they can participate somehow in the meal preparation.  And, maybe they’ll learn something!
  10. Instead of delivery or frozen pizzas, try making your own!  My family and I love socca pizza and it’s really easy to make.  We got our recipe from the Simply Sugar and Gluten Free Recipe Book.

 

Step 3:  Drink More Water!!

Drinking more water will help you stay hydrated and keep you from over eating.  Sometimes your body just needs water, not a bar of chocolate!

Step 4:  Stay Active

For some reason, this is the hardest thing to do for most people.  As a mom, I get tired just watching my kids jump around.  It also doesn’t help when your body is being dragged down by junk food.  The first week I cut out refined sugar, I felt horrible!  I didn’t want to do anything or talk to anyone.  All I wanted to do was focus on getting through the week without putting a spoon full of ice cream in my mouth!  But, once I got past the first week, I found that I had much more energy.  Not only that, I also felt less irritable and had a clear head.

Once I got my energy back, I started to force myself to exercise.  I couldn’t understand why it was still so hard for me since I had the energy to get through the workouts now.  Suddenly, it dawned on me!  Exercise can be fun!  I just had to find an activity that I loved doing.  I tried going for a run and nearly died of boredom.  I know I love tennis, but now it’s the middle of winter.  I also don’t have the time to go to a fitness center or join any yoga or zumba classes.  So, I had to think of something I could do at home while taking care of my four kids.

One day, I finally found the ear buds/headphones I had been looking for.  I plugged them into my iPod and started dancing around the house as I did laundry, vacuumed, picked up toys and clothes, etc.  Not only did this give me a great workout, it made me happy!  The kids found it amusing and I’m sure they noticed that Mommy was in a better mood.  I had finally found something active that I loved to do… dancing!

Step 5:  Treat Yourself!

While you may have gotten rid of all the junk food in your house, there are still those temptations outside of the house.  Once you’ve cleansed your body and gotten into a clear state of mind, you most likely won’t crave the junk anymore.  But, don’t fool yourself!  Those memories of sinking your teeth into a gooey glazed donut will not fade as quickly as you hope.  You can still treat yourself once a week without giving in to your addiction once again.  You’ll find the less you eat the sugar and carb filled treats, the easier it is to pass them up and only have them once in a while.

It’s important to teach our children that cake and ice cream are for special occasions.  They shouldn’t be something you keep in the house to eat after every meal.  Once that has been established, you and your children will begin to enjoy the healthy treats.  Your interest in different flavors will grow, and life will be that much more exciting!

 

 

 

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A Better Cash Back Program

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So, I’ve been doing some research on the cost of diapers and decided that I would organize my findings on blogger.  I’ve been doing this for about a month now and have found some great websites in the process of finding the best prices on diapers.  Until recently, I had been using Ebates as my preferred cash back website.  And, although I still use that website on occasion, I’ve found another cash back website that yields higher cash back (at most of the major retailers.)  This has been very beneficial considering the holiday season and the online Christmas shopping I’ve been doing.

Many of the top retailers are on this new cash back website that I use.  It’s completely free to join and completely free when you redeem your cash back.  You simply search for an online retailer, click the “Get Cashback Now” button, and it will automatically record your visit and purchase.  You will then receive a notification via e-mail with information about your cash back.  I’ve only been using it since the beginning of November and I’ve already earned $15 cash back.  It can really add up over time.

Interested in signing up?  Don’t forget, it’s completely free to join and free to redeem your cash back.  

Right now, you can get 12% cash back at Drugstore.com.  You can also get 6% cash back at Kohls, 5% back at Walmart, and 6% back at Target.  There are many many more online retailers to choose from.

In an effort to maintain full disclosure, I would like to inform you that the following banner contains my referral link and I will receive up to $10 when you sign up and you receive cash back for online purchases.  If you also love the website, you can also receive $10 for referring your friends and family.  I will not receive anything for your referrals.  This is NOT a pyramid scheme or scam of any kind.  It is a real cash back program that rewards their users with cash back when they shop online through selected online retailers.

If you would like to get cash back for your online purchases, simply click on the banner below or go to TopCashBack.com.
Online Cashback

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Gluten Free Pie Crust Recipe

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I made eight gluten free pumpkin pies over the course of the past two weeks and they turned out great!  My husband took a few to work, we had two for Thanksgiving with his family and two for Thanksgiving with my side of the family, and we kept one for ourselves.  Everyone loved this gluten free pie crust and I hope you do too!

Here is the gluten free pie crust recipe I came up with.  It yields four pie crusts or two double crust pies.

Ingredients

3 cups rice flour + 4 tbsp for rolling

1 cup potato starch

2 sticks of butter (1 cup)

1/2 c. coconut oil

3 tbsp sugar

2 tsp salt

1 egg

3/4 c. cold water

Instructions

  1. Blend 3 c. rice flour with potato starch, sugar, and salt
  2. Cut cold butter and solid coconut oil into flour mixture
  3. Beat egg and mix with cold water
  4. Combine ingredients until dough forms
  5. Pull dough apart into four pieces and place in fridge for 1 hour in container covered with plastic wrap
  6. Use 1 tbsp per pie crust for dusting surface and rolling pin
  7. Roll each pie crust out and gently place in pie pans
  8. Form the edges with your fingers
  9. Fill crust with pumpkin, fruit, or any other pie filling and bake as instructed in your pie recipe

 

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I Hope You Dance

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I love dancing, don’t you?  How about music?  I like music too.  The two go hand in hand of course.  You can’t really have one without the other.  Even if you’re not dancing outwardly when you listen to music, I bet you’re dancing on the inside.  For the past couple days, I’ve been walking around my house with my iPod in my pocket and ear-buds in my ears.  My husband and children have caught me dancing many times.

I’ve found that music motivates me.  It motivates me to clean the house and keep going until the laundry and dishes are all done.  It motivates me to be active.  Dancing isn’t the only thing we do to music.  I often see people out walking or running with their MP3 Player.

Depending on the song, it can motivate me spiritually by lifting up my soul to my Creator God.  A life without music and dance is a life that is unfulfilled.  So, not only do I pray that you’ll be motivated by music… I hope you dance!!!!!!!!

 

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Save on Diapers, Entertainment, and More + Free Shipping

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I spent almost the entire day searching for the best deal on diapers.  Right now, my two youngest are in diapers.  So, we could really benefit from getting the best deal on diapers possible.  I didn’t want to find just any one-time deal.  I wanted to find the lowest price per diaper, and I wanted to get free shipping.  And, by ordering online, we will also be saving time and money on gas.

As I started my search, I found the obvious choice.  I didn’t even have to finish the chart I started!

*UPDATE 12/04/2012 – I have finished my chart and also made a few more charts!  I had so much data that I decided to start another blog devoted to saving money on diapers.  If you’d like to follow this blog, please go to www.Diapers-Check.com.

Incomplete Diaper Price Chart

In the end, I signed up for Amazon Prime with Amazon Mom.  Amazon Prime is $79/yr, which comes to about $6.50/month.  Amazon Prime includes instant video, a 5% discount on products including diapers, free shipping, and a free Kindle book each month.  So, instead of keeping our Netflix account open for about $8.50/month, we can get the same thing through Amazon Prime for $6.50.  This gives us a discount on entertainment, select products including diapers, AND we get free shipping!  Plus, signing up for Amazon Mom is totally free and gives you an additional 20% off diapers!

Once the final calculations were done on size 3 diapers, it came to 0.17/Huggies Diaper, 0.17/Pampers Diaper, and an amazing 0.13/LUVS Diaper!  Deals on Chemical Free diapers included 0.23/Seventh Generation Diaper, 0.23/Huggies Pure & Natural Diaper, and 0.24/Earth’s Best Diaper.

So, you just pick your preferred diaper brand and sign up to get a box shipped to you every month or every 2 months depending on the quantity in each box of diapers.  I was surprised how easy it was.

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