Baby Wipes Containers Upcycled Into Spice Containers!

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Let me tell you a story. This is going to be a very short story. Actually, to be honest, you can’t even really call this a story.

But once upon a time, Nick and I we were pretty broke. Not that we are like rolling in the dough now, but considerably, things have improved.

Most things I found ways to wait for or to make do without, but one thing that I always wanted was spice shelves – or some sort of organizational system for spices. I was tired of not being able to find spices that I knew we had. I was tired of realizing that I’d accidentally bought the same spice twice.

But I couldn’t find the money to buy a fancy organizer.

So I started to look around my house, to try and figure out what I did have in abundance. And it turned out, that thing was baby wipe containers. If you have ever used baby wipes, you know that those containers are pretty sturdy.  So when we used them, I didn’t just want to throw them out. I held onto them because I knew they would be useful for something else. (And it turns out, they are useful for storing many things – we have different baby wipe containers for markers, pens, and pencils for example). We couldn’t use most of them for baby wipes anymore because one of my kids had broken the lids.

So when I realized I had a bunch of these, I thought, there has to be a way I can organize these to hold my spices. And so I started arranging the spices in them until every spice had a place. Then, I took a post it note and taped it on the front of the container and on that post it note, I wrote everything that was in that container. Then I lined them all up in my cupboard. Like this! Ignore the peeling post it note, I did tape it on better after I took this picture.

Spice Containers out of Baby wipe containers - baby wipe containers upcycle

I have been using it this way for at least a year – probably longer. They hold up really well to abuse and pulling in and out of my cupboard. I can find everything easily and I don’t accidentally buy duplicate spices anymore. Actually, the other day Nick said “We could get you real shelves.” And I actually turned him down because I like it so much I don’t want to change it. Though I think I would like to alphabetize it soon, but I admit, I have an addiction to alphabetizing things! I’m surprised I didn’t do that from the start, to be honest.

How do you upcycle your baby wipes containers? How do you organize your spices? 

On the Struggle to Be a “Good Mother”

What does it mean to be a good mother?

Picture of the mythical good mom that I think I’m not but can’t define.

I don’t know if you all are like me, but I have to admit that I struggle with feeling like I am not a good enough mother. I often feel like I am a bad or terrible mother. I promise you, I am not writing this to elicit comments from you all that I am a good mother, but stick with me and you’ll see my point eventually.

I think the most frustrating part about this is that if you asked me to define a good mother, I don’t even think I could. I have a ton of friends who I would classify as good mothers. And none of them parent the same. Or I would come up with artificially high and inflated standards like always does the dishes or other ridiculous stuff like that.

It seems pointless to strive for something that I don’t even know how to define. But I have this very concrete fear of being a terrible mother. And sometimes, I even feel like a terrible mother. I get caught up in all the things that are going wrong. Like the fact that one of my kids is very whiny and I try soooooo hard not to give into his whining, but sometimes I’m just tired. Sometimes I’ve just hit my whining limit. And the fact that getting the toys picked up before bed is a struggle almost all the time. I feel like there’s some mythical mother out there who doesn’t yell at her kids, whose kids always pick up their toys, and who is somehow impervious to whining. I feel like somehow if I just try harder, I can be her. I can be this amazing magical mom.

But I can’t. I’ll never be perfect, no matter how hard I try. And lots of times I think this struggle to be a good mother is just my perfectionism expressing itself in a different way. And perfectionism is a trap. Perfectionism is a slave driver that will whisper in your ear that you failed because you aren’t enough. That you should try harder. That you should always try harder, even if you feel like you’re already trying with everything you’ve got.

I talk with Nick about this. I talk with him about it so much so that he’s exhausted. Because in his eyes, I am a great mother and he doesn’t understand how I question this. But he texted me something once and I have held onto that text in all the hard times. And what he texted me was the three most important questions that I should ask myself every day to try and figure out if I’m a good mother.

So here, for you, are the three questions. In case it helps you the way it helps me.

Do you love your kids?

Do I love my kids? Yes, I absolutely love my kids. I do this, every day, without fail. There’s no time that I’m ever not loving them. Even when they upset me. Even when they drive me up the wall. I still love them. This love for them makes me a good mother. Even my imperfect love, it’s still love.

Are you trying to do what’s best for them?

I am a research personality if you didn’t know that already. I like to read and research everything. And parenting is no exception. I have read so many pregnancy and parenting books that I have all this knowledge in my head. Sometimes, it’s too much knowledge. But still, at the end of the day, I take this knowledge and try and use it to make the best decisions that I can for my kids. Sometimes, what’s best for them changes – sometimes we get more information. But still, I am trying to do what’s best for them every day, and that makes me a good mother.

Are you working on raising them in Godliness?

My husband and I both believe in God. And we both believe that it is important to pass that faith onto our children. And that that faith is more than just showing up for church and Sunday school on Sunday mornings to check a box. Even though this is the last question, it is the most important. If my kids are perfectly behaved angels all the time, but they don’t know God, it’s meaningless. If they can do calculus and write 10 page essays, but don’t know God, it’s meaningless. Our works can’t earn us heaven and neither can my kids’ behaviors. This is the big picture. And sometimes in the day to day, it’s easy to lose track of the big picture when you’re just trying to make it through another 5 minutes.

While I still have days where I struggle, when I try to keep these things in mind, it definitely helps. Nobody is perfect – even me – but in the day to day struggle of things, it can definitely be easy to lose track of the things that are going well. It is much easier to focus on everything that’s going wrong.

How do you define being a good mom? Do you struggle with feeling like you aren’t a good enough mom? What questions do you need to ask yourself? 

Homeschooling And Triathlons Aren’t For Everyone

Homeschooling and Triathlons Aren't for Everyone

Not an actual picture of me running. Because I don’t.

Homeschooling isn’t for everyone. And neither are triathlons. And that’s okay.

Now, you may think these things are not related and you may be correct. But, if you allow me a little leeway, I will use the triathlon as an illustration. And don’t worry, my goal is neither to convince you to complete a triathlon or to homeschool.

I actually hope this will be, in some ways, encouraging. I see it a lot that anyone can homeschool. And while I understand that to be well-intentioned, I don’t think I actually believe it. And I think it does both the homeschool community and people outside the homeschool community a disservice.

But what does this have to do with triathlons?

Well, I believe they have several things in common, believe it or not. Also, I feel like this is a fraud having never prepared for a triathlon myself, but it’s the best thing I could think to compare it to. By the way, if you have completed in triathlons and you feel like something I said here is totally off, please tell me because I’d love to make this post even stronger.

You need preparation.

You wouldn’t just wake up one morning and decide to complete a triathlon unless you were already a super athlete. But for an average person like you and me, doing that without any training beforehand could lead to failure – not to mention risk of injury.

Now, I’m not going to say that you need to have a teaching degree to homeschool, because I simply don’t believe that’s true. But, I do believe you should at least have finished high school – at the bare minimum. But, beyond that, the training I mean mostly involves research and reading. Before you start, you should ask questions of other homeschoolers, you should read books and blogs about homeschooling, you should have a good idea of what you are committing to and what your responsibilities to your children are. You should know and understand the laws in your state. I strongly believe that preparation is a crucial part of being able to successfully homeschool – no matter what your style. If you’re an unschooler, you should read a lot about unschooling. In fact, in general, you should probably read about the different homeschool styles to figure out what will work best for you. And it’s not like you have to be married to one homeschool style or method or even to homeschooling in general, but doing at least some reading will help to prepare you.

A support system is extremely helpful.

Now, it’s not necessary, but I think that in many hard things in life, having people cheering you on is extremely helpful. Could you do without it? Yes, but it can be a lot harder to motivate yourself on when it’s just you during the hard parts. Can you run a triathlon without it? Absolutely. Can you homeschool without a support system? Yes. But on the hard days, it makes such a world of difference to have people behind you who support why you are homeschooling and to validate that you are going to be able to do it. It’s a long, long race, homeschooling is.

One caveat, I don’t believe you should homeschool if your spouse is not on board. They are their children also – you should do your best to work out a plan for them that you can both feel good about. Otherwise, it can lead to a lot of conflict and stress in your marriage, which will affect your children.

You might hate homeschooling.

I don’t compete in triathlons because I hate running. I just do. No matter how much cool music or podcasts I listen to, I find it boring. Don’t hate, runner friends hahaha. The biking part would be okay. But I also don’t like swimming so 😉

But, some people just hate homeschooling. I’m not talking about people who hate it because they don’t understand it and who think that no one should homeschool. But if you don’t enjoy trying to teach your children or being home with them all day, that is okay. Like I started this post out, it’s not for everyone. And if you try it and don’t enjoy it, it is okay to quit. Or change things. But it really is an always on, never off type of situation, so if you don’t enjoy it, it is okay to recognize that and not try and force yourself to keep doing something because you feel like you “should.” I love homeschooling so, so much. But it is also really, really hard. Sometimes the hard things are worth doing, but there’s no medal for forcing hard things upon yourself. It is okay if you don’t want to homeschool.

Homeschooling doesn’t guarantee anything.

Competing in triathlons doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be super healthy and never get sick. In the same vein, a lot of people think that homeschooling will guarantee you certain things. That you will have a good relationship with your kids. Or that they will never go through a teenage rebellious phase. That they will never have to deal with bullying. Or that they will be protected from the influence of drugs and alcohol. And so on and so forth. Basically, some people view homeschooling as a utopia where they can control every aspect of their child’s life.

But that’s not the reality. Homeschooling is not a guarantee that any of those things will or will not happen. You can’t treat it as a cause and effect equation because there are other human beings involved. They have their own free will too and homeschooling will not protect your children from every evil that is out there. Sometimes people in my homeschooling group will post links about school shootings or other terrible things happening in schools and be like, I’m so glad I homeschool. (I hate that by the way. But maybe that’s for a different post?) 

But the reality is, that it can not protect you. Homeschooling is not your savior. There have been shootings at churches and movie theaters and malls. Bad things happen everywhere and homeschooling doesn’t make you immune from them. There is no guarantee of safety or of future behavior with homeschooling.

Bottom Line

Homeschooling is not for everyone. You should not feel guilty if you don’t feel like homeschooling would be a good fit for your family. There are many, many ways to educate your kids and have them turn out well. Homeschooling doesn’t own the market on being the “best” way to educate your kids. What’s good for one kid is not necessarily good for another. If you choose to homeschool, you need to be prepared and I definitely recommend a support system. And lastly, it is not a guarantee of anything – not your children’s safety, not your children’s behavior, not your children’s life. We aren’t promised anything. Homeschooling included.

What would you compare homeschooling to? What are some of the reasons you homeschool and what are some of the reasons that you think people should not homeschool? 

Picture from Stockvault by user cory finlayson

Why I Support the Coalition for Responsible Home Education

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Since in the last post I wrote, I tackled why we won’t be joining HSLDA, I thought today I would talk about why I support the Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE). I would not say that these are flip sides of the same coin, but they are related. And, while it seems as HSLDA tries to deregulate homeschooling, CRHE strives to promote reasonable regulation.

Why I support the Coalition for Responsible Home Education

I know, in writing this post, that not many people are familiar with CRHE, so in case you aren’t, CRHE like I said, stands for Coalition for Responsible Home Education. They are a non-profit, non-partisan, non-religious organization that advocates for homeschooled children. They were founded and created by adults who were once homeschooled children themselves. As far as what they do – I think they say it so much better than I could. “We conduct research, create resources, and promote sound homeschooling policy. We are committed to advocating for common-sense laws that respect freedom of choice in education style and methodology but contain the checks and balances necessary to ensure the wellbeing and educational success of all homeschooled children.” (Source)

I know that, for many homeschoolers, they don’t want the government in their business. But I guess, I’m not many homeschoolers. I’m my own person and I think that the government can absolutely be beneficial in many circumstances. The government does things for me that I don’t have the ability or desire to do on my own. Then there’s the other side of the coin – where people claim that there isn’t abuse in homeschooling or that people who abuse their children aren’t real homeschoolers.

But I can’t deny the fact that unfortunately, some parents (too many parents) have used homeschooling as a cover to abuse their children or to hide their children from accusations of abuse. In my ideal world, we wouldn’t need to be having this conversation because everyone would treat their children with love and kindness. But unfortunately, that is not the reality we live in, and too many kids are being abused.

For me, I love homeschooling. I think it is one of the biggest blessings in my life. In my (admittedly biased) opinion, my children are thriving. But unfortunately, it is not a positive experience for every child. And for children whose parents are using homeschooling to hide abuse, it is not only a terrifying situation, but it is a potentially fatal one. For me, I would subject my children to more regulation and oversight of our homeschooling, if it meant that fewer homeschooled kids fell through the cracks.

Sometimes you see horror stories in the media about terrible things that happened to homeschooled kids. Some of these have happened in my own state. I don’t want people to look at those cases and say, all homeschoolers are like that. But on the flipside, I don’t want to sit by and do nothing when these things are happening. Child abuse and educational neglect do happen in the homeschool community. No, they are not happening in every family. But, I don’t want to shrug and say “It’s not my problem” because I value this community.

And this is where I kind of dovetail with CRHE. We have, I feel, the same goals in mind. We want to protect children. They are very straightforward about their policy recommendations (pro tip: I found them easier to read if you click the link at the top that says read as a PDF). I think having concrete changes that we could make is extremely helpful. It helps to give a roadmap of how to change things. It doesn’t just say this is a problem. It says, here are some things we could do to make the problem better. It also helps you to realize that they aren’t asking for anything unreasonable. If you read the suggestions as a PDF, they often make notes of where this recommendation or similar is already part of a state law.

Our children are counting on us to do better for them in so many ways. I see this as part of those ways. If you want to learn more about CRHE, I encourage you to visit their website.

Have you heard of the Coalition for Responsible Home Education before? What do you think that we could do better to protect every child in our community? 

P. S. Did you know the Coalition for Responsible Home Education also provides information on the laws of every state? I find this information to be much more thorough than the information HSLDA provides. Plus you don’t have to put in your e-mail to read it. 

Logo used with permission of CRHE! They were not in any way, shape or form affiliated with me writing this post. However, when I knew that I was going to be writing it, I reached out to them asking for permission to use their logo in my post and they graciously agreed. 

4 Reasons We Won’t Be Joining HSLDA

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I have to admit that writing this post makes me very nervous. In many homeschooling circles/groups, to question HSLDA or to say anything negative about them is equal to heresy. HSLDA always has the best interests of homeschoolers at heart – right? Well, I disagree. And in many groups, when people come in and are new to homeschooling and they want to know where they start, often times, the first comment is referring them to HSLDA. And if it’s not the first comment, it’s within the top five. Of course, you need to make the best decision for your family, but in this post, I’m going to lay out the reasons that my family won’t be joining HSLDA.

But I suppose before I do that I should back up a bit and explain what HSLDA is, in case you are not familiar with them. HSLDA stands for Homeschool Legal Defense Association. They are a homeschool advocacy group. They state their mission as, “to bring together a large number of homeschooling families so that each can have a low-cost method of obtaining quality legal defense.”

So now that that’s out of the way, let’s jump in.

4 Reasons We Won't Be Joining HSLDA

I disagree with HSLDA’s fear mongering techniques.

I think that the reason that HSLDA is so popular is that they have really used fear to sell their product. I have even seen people who say, well, I don’t agree with a lot of what they do, but better safe than sorry. It’s viewed as a protection from the overreach of the government. Protection that HSLDA has convinced homeschoolers they need. Then those homeschoolers convince other newbie homeschoolers they need it. And so on and so forth.

And like I said in my opening paragraph, HSLDA is suggested to new homeschoolers extremely frequently. So, in the beginning, I too signed up for their newsletter. It was the best thing to do right? Well, if you’ve ever seen the inbox of my old e-mail (which at the time of this writing has over 230,000 unread e-mails – no, not a typo), you know that I rarely deleted e-mails.  And I also rarely unsubscribed from things.

So, this has left me a treasure trove of HSLDA e-mails from which to draw from to help describe their fear mongering techniques. They frequently use hosilte/aggressive words to describe school or government officials. Words like threatened or targets come up over and over again. I’m not there and I can’t say that they didn’t threaten. However, when it’s used in many instances, it starts to look like a pattern. Often times the cases they handle are misunderstandings between school officials and what’s actually required of the law and these are frequently cleared up with a letter or a conversation. Yet, HLSDA frequently continues to paint these interactions as malicious on the part of school officials. As if all school officials are out to get your children. It does sometimes happen that school officials overreach and ask for more information than is required by law, but saying things like “a chilling letter” and “dangerous education regulations” set a tone of fear and the bad guy boogeyman lurking in the closet.

If there’s a real problem, I will care about it. I’m the kind of person who does. But I don’t appreciate being made to feel like there’s a problem with scary fear mongering language. It’s not how I roll.

Your money does not guarantee help.

HSLDA takes a fee every year of (at the time of this writing), $120 or $1000 for a lifetime membership. I see this talked about in homeschooling groups as a for sure thing. That if you ever get into any legal trouble, that HSLDA will help as long as you’ve been paying the fee. It’s treated as legal insurance, even though they are definitely not. And many homeschoolers will say they have them “just in case” and “better safe than sorry.” However, they can refuse the case of anyone they choose. As it says on their website, “we cannot guarantee representation in every case.” And while they are just anecdotes, I’ve heard many stories of them doing just that. Especially for secular homeschoolers, even though they say they accept all faiths.

Additionally, what you may not know is that when you sign up, you are agreeing to keep records. This is to help in your legal defense, which is, of course, not a bad thing. I keep records and so do many others. But many states do not require record keeping, so in some ways, they are putting an extra burden on you. The irony of requiring you to keep records when many of their actions against the government are keeping the government from looking at those records is not lost on me.

I don’t always agree with who they help.

Additionally, as 501(c)(4), they are allowed to endorse candidates and campaign politically. I don’t want to send my money to them not knowing what candidates they will endorse or put money behind or what laws they will lobby for. Just like I investigate the other organizations I donate to, I would consider any payment to HSLDA to also be a donation of sorts. Even though they say member dues do not go to fund that, that is still their tax status and reality. They are a conservative organization – there is no doubt* about that – and anyone who has known me for any length of time knows that I identify politically as a moderate/independent and not a conservative.

I don’t agree with what they did in the case of the Romeikes. (I almost wrote a blog post about this back when it happened, but couldn’t express what I wanted to say well enough). I believe that the Romeike family had other options. They could have immigrated within the EU to another member state where homeschooling is legal and because they are members of the EU, immigrating between countries, from my understanding, is easier. However, I believe that HSLDA chose to encourage them to come to the United States because they were trying to set up a court case to prove that homeschooling should be a human right. They were using this family as pawns, I believe, and I was not okay with that. If I paid dues, my money would have been used to help support that court case.

I also disagreed with their handling of the Cressy case. In this, they painted the state government in New York as being completely out of line. However, the Cressys failed to file their homeschooling paperwork for over seven years. Now, you can argue about whether or not the law in New York is too restrictive. I don’t feel it is, but some people do. Either way, as long as that law is in place, it needs to be followed. Say you didn’t do your taxes for 7 years and the IRS came after you. Would the IRS be in the wrong or would you be in the wrong? You would be, of course. I don’t want my money to be used to support people who were breaking the law. It feels like a slap in the face when I work so carefully to follow the law. I would say that it wouldn’t have been so aggravating to me if they hadn’t painted the government as being so atrocious. The government was doing their job.

Lastly, while I will say, first and foremost, not all HSLDA members are child abusers, they have defended some in court. I will tell you that this paragraph contains some disturbing accounts of child abuse. There’s the parents who were later convicted of child abuse after their children suffered multiple broken bones (including a fractured spine and skull) and failed to seek medical attention for them, among other things, – their HSLDA affiliated lawyer said they were just a good Christian family being persecuted. They defended the right for another family to homeschool after 5 children died in their care. At least two of those deaths were ruled homicides. This includes their six-year-old daughter who had bleach poured on her and then they never sought medical care for her. They successfully won the right for this family to keep homeschooling.

While, like I said, not all HSLDA members are abusing their children, if I paid into HSLDA, those funds are used to defend other homeschoolers. I don’t get to pick and choose which people my funds are used to help. I want to stress again that not all of the families they defend are child abusers. However, when they are, I can’t untangle my money from that after it’s gone from them. And I don’t want my money being used for that.

(Side note: I find, quite frequently, that whenever it comes out that CPS removed children from a homeschool family, it is often assumed that CPS is in the wrong and that, of course, they are a good homeschool family and CPS is just out to get homeschoolers. I remember a case in the last few years where several children were taken from a homeschool family and everyone was railing on CPS as the bad guys, but later it came out that they were living in basically a shack that only had walls on three sides and was completely open to the elements on the third side and if I recall correctly, there was no clean running water either. I remember listening to an interview with the mom that she posted online to try and prove how the police were persecuting them. I remember thinking, it really sounds like she is trying to bait the cop into shooting her. (I can’t find this interview again at this time.) This CPS and homeschoolers thing deserves a whole separate post which I will write some day). 

I trust my state organization more.

For a while, HSLDA had incorrect information on their website about how to homeschool legally in Wisconsin. They kept this information up for quite some time. This was despite being contacted by local state organizations here on the ground in Wisconsin. Eventually, they did change this. Regardless, I know our local advocacy group has a clean record. Furthermore, they live here and have a much better understanding of Wisconsin. Plus, they have a bigger investment here in a way that only other people who are homeschooling here can have. It is in their best interests to be honest and transparent because they also homeschool their children here. WPA did a lot of work in the state of Wisconsin and if I ever had trouble, I would turn to them. They’ve earned my trust.

Bottom line, HSLDA does not speak for me as a homeschooler. That is the main reason why I will not let them put my money to work for their agenda. Writing this post has made me nervous, however, like my vaccination post, I feel that there are not enough voices in the homeschool world speaking for those who are choosing to opt out. I am opting out of HSLDA and I will stand behind that.

Do you feel HSLDA provides a valuable service to homeschoolers? Or do you feel like me that this is an organization not worth giving your money too? 

*This article linked in this sentence is also a good article containing well-thought out criticisms of HSLDA.

Additional Sources:

Photo by Faustlawmarketing at Morguefile.com, text added by me. 

How I Meal Plan

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I feel like at this point I’ve explained how I meal plan to more than one person, so I thought I might write a blog post about it. How I meal plan is like sort of how other people plan, but also sort of my own style. So, here is my meal planning “system” I guess you might call it.

I don’t know how many of you know this, but cooking is not my strong suit. I knew how to do very basic things when we were first married, but harder things intimidated me and we were eating a lot of pre-packaged foods because I could follow the instructions on a frozen pizza or a box of mac n cheese.

Well, especially when Dominic was born, I really wanted us to eat more variety and healthier. But I needed to teach myself to cook. I figured if I can follow the instructions on a box, surely I can follow a recipe.

So my menu planning was sort of designed with this in mind. It was designed for me to be able to learn new recipes. And also because, if I don’t meal plan, there tends to be a lot of whiny (from me) at dinner time about not knowing what to cook or eat. I needed to decide everything ahead of time for the week, when I wasn’t stressed and tired. This removes a lot of the thinking element from the day to day decisions about eating.

So what I did first was sit down and write out all the main dishes/lunch/dinner meals I could think of as well as all the breakfast meals I could think of. It even includes obvious things like cereal. Because I didn’t want to have to reinvent the list all over again every week. And if I have to think of half of it because those are the “obvious” things, that’s extra mental work I have to do. By the way, everything on the list I can cook from memory, without following instructions or with very minimal instructions. Example, when I added French Fry Onion Chicken to my main dish list – a new meal that I had tried – I wrote down the time it took in the oven and the temperature of the oven because those are the parts I’m likely to forget, but I know all the ingredients and steps by heart or they come with directions (yes, we still eat frozen pizzas). For me, that’s what it takes to make it on my list because I want to spend my thinking energy when I cook on the new recipes, which I’ll talk about in a second.

So, I decided that in order to teach myself how to cook, I would try a certain number of new recipes every week.

By now, I have my master lists and I have my new recipe sources. My main recipe sources are cookbooks, magazines, free Kindle cookbooks, and Pinterest. So what I do first is I write down the days of the week along with a spot for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you don’t want to do this, you can buy pads with tear off sheets (I’ve found these in the Target dollar spot before and I’m sure they are in other places as well) or there are tons of printable ones out there for free as well. You can find them with or without a grocery shopping list. I like it without a grocery shopping list because I find my grocery shopping list takes a lot of abuse.

Then, I fill in whatever new recipes I want to try, whether they are breakfast or dinner recipes or what have you. Then, with whatever blanks I have left, I fill in recipes from my master lists. This way I know that I can focus all of my cooking energies on the new recipes and the rest of the time the cooking is relatively easy.

And you can definitely tweak this plan if you want to do it around what’s on sale. It can also be tweaked for any special dietary concerns that you have. This is the biggest advantage to building it from the ground up. It’s pretty flexible and that’s why it works for me. I’ve been meal planning this way for . . . I’m not sure how long but at least 3 years. Every weekend, this is what I do. Oh and as far as creating my grocery list, I do that as I go along. Every time I write a meal down on the menu plan, I immediately check what we need. Then I immediately write down the ingredients on my list. If I don’t do it immediately, I find I forget things.

I took a picture so you guys can sort of see an example. Ignore the fact that I spilled something on the breakfast list once upon a time. Keeping it real haha! I do rewrite these master lists occasionally if they change substantially or they get beat up a lot.

Meal Plan

Anyways, I hope this helps! That’s how I meal plan.

Do you meal plan? What have you found to work for you? 

Should You Use a Home Doppler During Pregnancy?

Should you use a home doppler in pregnancy? Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor or a doctor of any kind. If you are pregnant, I encourage you to discuss home doppler use with your care provider if you have questions. And, happy pregnancy! 

The use of home dopplers has swelled in recent year. I frequently see people asking about them in my Facebook groups or selling them. If you do a search for them, you return many brands to buy. But, is this new trend helpful or even safe?

Home doppler use has grown in recent years. For many women, early appointments are far and few between. For others, a fear of miscarriage or stillbirth is what persuades them to rent or buy a home doppler. But is there any evidence that they are helpful? Anecdotally, women report to other women that they eased their anxiety. But are they helpful?

The short answer? No. At best, a home doppler can provide reassurance that baby is okay. But, on the flip side of that, since you are not a trained medical provider, the reassurance could be a false reassurance. And the home doppler itself does not do anything to prevent miscarriage or stillbirth. In fact, if you choose not to seek medical help based on a false reassurance, it can actually be extremely dangerous. Like UK Charity Kicks Count points out, if someone collapsed in the street, would you think they were okay just because you could feel a pulse? Or would you call for help? But frequently, women hear a heartbeat and are reassured enough to think that there’s no danger.

One such case was recorded in the peer-reviewed journal The BMJ (British Medical Journal). You can read it here, but they discuss the sad case of an unexplained stillbirth where the woman presented three days after she had felt decreased movement but had convinced herself that it was fine due to detecting a “fetal heartbeat” which may actually have been placental blood flow or her own heartbeat. They concluded, “Obstetric services need to educate expectant mothers about the limitations and the potentially fatal consequences of untrained use of fetal heart monitors and to present clear guidance about when to seek medical review.”

Of course, the devices are essentially same as the doppler doctors use. And I don’t write this post because I think that doppler waves are in any way dangerous. Just that misuse of this technology can cause anxiety and provide false reassurances. Those false reassurances can lead to not seeking help from a qualified medical professional in time. Ultrasound and dopplers are considered some of the safest technology out there. So the risks they pose are not inherent, but instead, the risks that they pose come from their misuse. That and, while we believe they are safe now, we can not entirely rule out that later we may find more info. I am not trying to be all dopplers and ultrasounds are terrible for you. I truly do not believe that. Just that it is often a common pattern that later on we find out more info about something we previously thought was safe. This is why limiting ultrasound and doppler use to what is necessary medically is important. When it’s medically necessary the benefits outweigh the risks. However, in the case of home use, the benefits, in my opinion, do not outweigh the risks.

The FDA has even warned against them (and keepsake ultrasounds – another post for another day, perhaps?). It’s not that I see the FDA as the be all and end all. However, I do think their concerns, in this case, are legitimate. To quote,

“When the product is purchased over the counter and used without consultation with a health care professional taking care of the pregnant woman, there is no oversight of how the device is used. Also, there is little or no medical benefit expected from the exposure,” Vaezy says. “Furthermore, the number of sessions or the length of a session in scanning a fetus is uncontrolled, and that increases the potential for harm to the fetus and eventually the mother.”

And Kicks Count (mentioned above) actually believes that such devices should be banned and quite frankly, I do as well. I see this as another way that manufacturers choose to prey on women who have reasonable anxieties about childbirth and pregnancy. Instead of offering them evidence based support, they push a product that costs money and can not help in the long run. Similarly to how makers of infant cardio-respiratory monitors prey on parents’ fears of SIDS and offer monitors that can not help or prevent SIDS and encourage risky behavior.*

Unfortunately, there are too many moms who feel that their own use of a home doppler contributed to not seeking help in time. I admire their courage because it does take courage to admit that you made a mistake. It’s impossible to tell if acting earlier would have changed the outcome. However, they have to live with that what if for the rest of their life.

The bottom line is, dopplers are a medical device. Without proper training in not only using the Doppler but how to interpret the results and what’s worrying and what’s not, you are putting you and your baby at risk. A better alternative if you are worried is to discuss with your care provider. Ask them what you should look for and what a good course of action would be. That money can definitely be better spent elsewhere.

Did you use a doppler during pregnancy? If so, how do you feel about the concerns I’ve raised here? 

*I don’t think I’ve done a blog post on this, but if you want to hear more of my thoughts on cardio-respiratory monitors like the Snuza, Owlet, etc, you can check out this episode of the podcast I co-host at Precious Little Sleep. 

By Harmid (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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