War on Average

encouraging each other not to be satisfied with mediocre


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Finding Health and Passion in a Busy Life

CropperBy Christine Cropper

 

In June of 2013, I found myself as a busy mom (of three small children, one a newborn) who had been on medication for my acid reflux disease for the past 12 years. I needed energy, needed to lose weight from my having my third baby, and I knew that I wanted better health for our family!

Another mom from preschool was so kind to help me in the drop-off line each morning. We became fast friends and in the process she shared with me how she had found energy, had lost weight and began creating a healthy life for her family. The company she partnered with was Shaklee, a company that I found to have history, integrity, and high quality products that I could trust.

I started with my own health, using what we call the Vitalizing Plan, one meal replacement per day and my Vitalizer strip of vitamins. I had so much healing by just using this kit that I was eager to learn more about natural solutions to our entire family’s health. After using the kit for almost three months, I had lost 15 lbs, my cholesterol had gone down almost 30 points, and my acid reflux disease was gone! I came off Prilosec and I wanted to learn how to help my kids. My then four-year-old daughter got stomach aches every time she would eat and she also had eczema all over her legs. I listened to a health stories conference call and listened to some Wellness Webinars. That education led me to start her on our Incredivites (children’s multi), Chewable C, and Optiflora probiotic. Within a couple of weeks, her eczema was disappearing and her stomach aches had become much less frequent. I was elated! About six months to a year later, my then one-year-old son was experiencing respiratory issues every time he would get a cold or virus. The doctors called it “reactive airway” and wanted to put him on a daily steroid. I absolutely did not want to do this, so I looked to Shaklee for a better, safer solution. I added our chewable omega 3, called Mighty Smarts, into his daily regimen along with Incredivites, Chewable C, and Optiflora. It worked!!! He has gone a year and a half now without any respiratory issues whenever he gets a cold or another virus! Also around this time, my husband started using Optiflora probiotic and noticed a large change in his digestive health. His family has a long history of colon cancer and he was excited to start approaching his health in a preventative way. He fell in love with the quality and integrity of Shaklee products and the company. We know that all of our children and ourselves now have a stronger immune system because of Shaklee. We love our non toxic cleaning products, we love our skin care products (vitamins for your skin), we love our Life Shake, supplements and basically everything that Shaklee produces is fantastic, safe, and works incredibly well.

Then in April of 2015, my husband and I were invited to a large Shaklee event. We felt compelled to learn more about how we could share the health that we had found with Shaklee with others. We definitely knew that we always wanted Shaklee to be a part of our family’s lives to keep us healthy. We are both teachers, so we thought, ‘why wouldn’t we want to educate others on how to have better health? What if we could build a business and help make other people’s lives better? After all, it is our passion to serve others.’ It made complete sense to us that we would build a business with the Shaklee opportunity. However, there was always a reason why it wasn’t the “right time”. We were just so busy and overwhelmed with daily life and taking care of our three little ones. Also at this point I was eight months pregnant with our fourth child and I could barely do the laundry, let alone think about starting a business, so I waited. Then our fourth baby came on June 12! We knew that we wanted to start our business some time soon, and we knew that it would probably never feel like the “right time” because life will always have a lot going on. So we took a leap and started our business on July 1, 2015. We are so glad that we did! We earned our initial investment back in the first month!

The best part is that we never felt like we had to do anything alone as we began our business. Our leaders helped us every step of the way, as well as many other people on our team. Even in the midst of the chaos of my postpartum life, I was always supported. Our leader allowed us to host our launch event at her home and she was always willing to get together to help us with skills and planning. The community that we have the opportunity to work with is truly phenomenal! There is so much support on our team! You are never alone and any answer is just a phone call or text message away. We have tons of resources and did I mention the free training that we receive? When I was teaching I had to pay for my training, now I receive free training every week. All in all, joining the business has been one of the best decisions for me and my family. We became business leaders within three months and we are now looking to build a team of our own! What a rewarding and exciting field to be a part of! Our country needs to move towards prevention and Shaklee is going to lead the way. When we take small steps that lead to big results, this is called the Shaklee Effect. We feel empowered to be a part of this revolutionary company!

 

For more information on the products Christine mentioned or about the Shaklee opportunity, contact the Shaklee distributor that sent you this blog link.


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Christmas Cards

“Balance. It’s like a unicorn; we’ve heard about it, everyone talks about it and makes airbrushed T-shirts celebrating it, it seems super rad, but we haven’t actually seen one. I’m beginning to think it isn’t a thing.”
Jen Hatmaker, For the Love

I hope I have never given the impression that I balance it all. I don’t. I think that’s why I am so moved by the first chapter of this book the above quote is from, “For the Love.” Christmas cards are a great example of this. I had written this post in my head but was so thankful to read this chapter before I had a chance to type it.

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IF I was sending a Christmas card, it would include this picture. And I would use that cute template that says, “All is not calm, but all is bright.”
(Photography: Robb Davidson Photography)

First, I love mail. I love sending real cards with stamps. I love receiving mail. I love cards and letters and stationary. I love getting Christmas cards. I love a picture I can hold and put up on my wall and connections with people and a mailbox full of joy.

Here is the background on the Christmas cards
(skip to “Where I’m At Now” if you’d like).

I longingly waited until we had a cute little face to put on Christmas cards. I had special pictures taken and addressed and stamped lovingly all my Christmas cards. I did this for one year. In 2011 we moved into a new house in December and then had my sister’s wedding. I sent New Year’s cards. Then in 2012 we had a baby in the fall and because I had just sent birth announcements, I thought, ‘I’ll skip Christmas cards this year.’ That’s not really true. My husband said, “Are you crazy? You have a new baby, a growing business, a toddler and you just sent out birth announcements that had a family picture on it. Let’s skip them this year.” I said, “But of course!” No, not true again. But, I did thankfully (eventually and begrudgingly) follow the wisdom of my husband and said to myself, ‘Well, years we have babies and send birth announcements I just won’t send Christmas cards.’

Then in 2013, I just couldn’t get it together. I know that I’ve been taken off other people’s card lists because I have not sent one. I know. I’m okay with that. But something had to give. In 2014, we had another baby. And guess what? I didn’t even send a birth announcement. And now it’s 2015 and I’m here again, but this year, I have come to grips with my life.

Where I’m At Now
Some things have to give. I just can’t do it all. And I have to be okay with that.

I am choosing to be wise with my time and my energy. This year I am sadly putting aside this time-honored tradition that I love and focusing on the things that God has put front and center. We have a lot going on with ministry, business, and of course, three little wonderful people.

This is sad for me, but I know that I will be less stressed, less busy, and more focused this season if I let this one go.

I hope you still do a Christmas card this year (but it’s okay if your policy is to only send one to those who send one too). I don’t share this to say anything negative about how you spend your time or energy. I love getting your cards and I am thankful that you can still do this (I hope to again one day). We all have to have different stories and a different balancing act.

I only share this to say that this is something that I, sadly, am giving up. I am freeing myself from feeling like I have failed because I can’t do it all. I am sharing that I am not letting myself feel judged because I didn’t send one again this year. I am freeing myself from the “well I will next year” lie and just letting it go.

If you want the other lists of things I have had to let go, I’m happy to share. I often sing “If I had a million hours…” to the tune of BNL’s “If I had a million dollars..” But I don’t. God generously gave me 24 hours (and a need for sleep) and seven days in a week. Learning to let things go that I feel I “should” do is a process of trusting Him and His plan for me. I don’t know what you need freedom from this year, but I hope there is some encouragement in this.

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And this is the pile of personal, specific notes still on my to-do pile—some of which have been sitting there for eight weeks, one is my very best friend’s birthday card (three weeks ago). I have some other things I need to get to first.

 

 

 

And I love you all and Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah and thank you and everything else.

 


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“But I am not a salesperson”

MissionI hear this frequently from people who love health and want the opportunity to create financial freedom and fulfillment by representing a company they trust—Shaklee. BUT, they hold back because they are afraid of pushing people away and they don’t want to SELL things. It’s one of the biggest lies that has been created in the business of serving others…that you have to be “salesy.”

Do you know what I’ve discovered and how I answer? “Good. Me too. “Salesperson” is not a requirement for success with Shaklee.”

I am an Advocate. I am a Resource. I am a Listener. A Noticer.

I am not a salesperson. And I’ve come to love that.

We don’t have to “sell” people Basic H, or Vita Lea, or even Stress Relief Complex. We simply need to listen. To be genuinely interested in another person’s story. To be successful in Shaklee be a good listener. Practice the art of Noticing. Then, when the needs arise in someone’s story you can offer to become their advocate and offer resources to help meet their needs. Listening, advocating, noticing…these are relational. Selling is transactional.

This is a relationship business. This is an education business.
You see women succeed in Shaklee,  not because it’s a trendy mom-hobby (at all) or because they use Shaklee as another way to compete in the “game” of motherhood, but because moms have a unique ability to care for one another. To empathize as they share so much in common around one of the strongest roots of their being as they raise children and serve their families. When someone sets mompetition aside and cultivates a servant heart and attitude a desire
emerges to create change and empowerment in others lives by sharing what is valuable and effective for them. Practicing mompetition OR practicing a servant heart and attitude requires the same output of effort, but the fruit of one is nourishing and the other is depleting.

The gift of succeeding in Shaklee is not just reserved for moms either!

For example, TEACHERS are remarkable in our business because they are passionate about educating, enabling and empowering.

THERAPISTS thrive l with Shaklee because they’re trained to listen, problem solve and offer solutions and they know that true wellness is multifaceted. Body, mind and spirit.

STYLISTS are great at this business because they understand how external beauty and health provides confidence internally.

Shaklee is not about sales—it’s about having a heart desire to serve. It’s the opportunity to meet a need with trusted products and a business that has been proven for over sixty years!

What do I do to serve people? I partner with Shaklee to bring value in ways people are looking for and do so for the sake of people I care for and relate to.

If you would like to join our incredible community in this Shaklee adventure, you can visit my website or e-mail me directly. I would love to share this amazing opportunity with you.

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Expanding the Impact of My Gifts

IMG_8871_2  Last week I was asked to be part of leading a training meeting about what the Shaklee opportunity looks like for me in the context of MomLife. In preparing for that cool opportunity I realized that what I would share was based in principles and would apply to virtually anyone, in any stage of life.

Now, this wasn’t your average training meeting held in a sterile feeling room with a whiteboard of projector screen that requires pastries and coffee to entice those to dare enter. It was thirty adults (many whom brought their children who enjoyed time around the pool) under a tent all at different places in their Shaklee journey from brand-new to super-successful in their business of changing lives. All of them chose to show up because they recognize the power of the Shaklee difference in their lives and were eager to learn how to better use, share and build what Shaklee provides to make lives better.

So what I shared then I want to share now, in the context of wherever real life has you. Shaklee has been a source of fulfillment and financial blessing, giving our family ability to make decisions based on what we want to do instead of what we have to do. But besides that, Shaklee has provided a surprising and effective circumstance for God to grow me in areas I never considered…and if I did consider them, never thought they were possible at this stage of stay-at-home-mom life. Often thinking, “maybe I will get to do that/learn that/grow in that way once the kids are older or out on their own.”
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Changing lives in my business has given me the chance to expand the impact of my gifting. This business has given me the chance to discover and grow in my God-given identity in ways that were not possible before.

I read an article recently called “Are You Lonely Mama?” And the article made me ever so thankful for the Shaklee family that I have. I speak with people all over the country who share a vision for changing the world. Through Shaklee I have developed relationships that go far beyond health, nutrition, but have become trusted prayer partners and friends. The Shaklee community has become and amazing place to speak about motherhood, but also so much more. It is a place that pulls us back into balance between the bigger picture of life and living with nose to the grindstone, just plowing through the joys and challenges of raising kids managing a home. A place where motherhood is praised and prioritized, but also where we encourage one another to remember and practice the other parts of the identity we have been blessed with!
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The second article that had a powerful impact shared the importance of having an identity outside the walls of motherhood. It spoke to me in so many ways. It made me thankful and AWARE of my blessings and even helped me identify areas I have grown. This message is not only powerful for this season, (monotony of diapers, endless snack times and tying shoes) but for future seasons, like when the subjects of my motherhood begin pursuing their independence and who I am walks out the door to college.

So many things have been made possible. I had no idea I could help families on so many levels, though their health (Like Amber and Elisabeth). I never knew I could be a leader. I never imagined I would have privilege to inspire, challenge and help other moms and business people grow. I never dreamed I’d have opportunities to share accomplishments and my story in crowds of thousands. I never thought I would make goals that I could achieve and even help others do that same. To see growing families on our team able to purchase homes and vehicles for their growing families and able to give and travel in ways they never imagined…just amazing! I love the platform Shaklee has provided to play bigger, inspire and share my values with so many!

I never thought I could do this because my dream was (and is) to be a great wife and mom. I didn’t know I could have both. I can do this while being all-there for my family. And even so, being this person (this Proverbs 31 inspired woman), has made me a better wife and a better mom because I am beginning to reach my potential outside of those walls.

 

Please contact me if you would like to learn more and join me in this adventure!

 

 

 


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Some Things Moms Need

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I spend a lot of time helping people find solutions to health concerns, changing their nutrition, and make general healthy changes. Most of the time, that is for their children. Often as moms we neglect our own health for the sake of our children. I even find myself blogging more about children’s health than about health for moms because that is what I am most often asked about.

But I want to share with you some things that moms need—not just to be healthy but to be the best moms they can be! And I’ll keep this brief because I know you don’t have a lot of time to read about something for yourself.

There are many stages of mommy life, so I am just covering basic mom needs. You can check out here what pregnant moms need and soon I will be writing specifically about what nursing moms need.

Most Moms Need Energy:
Yes, many of us are just tired—we were up three times last night with three different children—nursing, nightmares, last minute science fair projects. But there are a few key nutrients that will give women more energy to get through the day:

Protein: Most women do not get enough protein. And most of us are giving all the best foods to our children first. Shaklee 180 and Vitalizing Protein are a great solution for the busy mom who still needs to get in a healthy meal. They are not just for losing weight, but getting enough protein (and all the other nutrients in these) will help give you the energy you need for your day!

B-Complex: We all deplete our B vitamins all day—with stress, caffeine, alcohol, exercise, etc. Replenishing them helps us with focus, memory, moods, cravings, stress, anxiety and ENERGY. Do you know any moms who would like that? My friend Barb, nutritionist extraordinaire, says “it turns every woman into Mother Theresa.” I take one in the morning and at least one in the afternoon—and sometimes another few before or after bedtime!

Vitamin D: I live in the Midwest and here especially, many women are lacking in Vitamin D. Having healthy levels of Vitamin D not only helps with immunity, overall health, emotional stability but also ENERGY. This easy and inexpensive additional to your vitamin regimen could have a very big impact on your energy, especially in the winter and/or when pregnant.

Iron: Women need iron and so many supplements on the market do not use iron that is bio-available (absorbs correctly in your body). If you are not getting the iron you need from your vitamin, you won’t have the energy you need to be the best mom you can be! If you are very low on iron, you may want to add Iron+C to your VitaLea with Iron or Vitalizer Women.

Most Moms Need a Refuel:
Whether you’ve been emptied of nutrients from birthing babies or been emptied from a very hard day, you can refuel your body and mind (with the items above as well as some of these below)

OmegaGuard: Many studies are saying that Omega’s are the most important supplement to be on. For many women, being low on these important nutrients after having babies can lead to “mommy brain,” postnatal anxiety, postnatal depression and more. Omegas also help with inflammation which is the source of many health issues.

Stress Relief Complex: Not much is needed to say for moms with this but here is one short testimony from Marissa: “”Stress relief complex helps me to be a better mom because it gives me a sense of calm even in the really trying moments. I am able to keep cool and process each situation as it comes.”

Energy Tea: This is by far one of my favorites! It is a delicious way for me to get that refuel of a little caffeine and B-vitamins to push through an afternoon after being up with kiddos or rising early with them. The side-benefits to green matcha are a plus if you’ve been following those!

 

Some Moms Need a Passion:
Whether you work full-time or stay home full-time or something in between, many moms are looking to find a passion—for me it has been helping people. My friend, Bonnie was a stay-at-home mom who needed to use her gifts and do something more. My friend Jo, wanted to stay home with her children—that was almost 40 years ago. My friend, Katie wanted to follow her passion for teaching but be able to stay home with her daughter. My friend Jeanine needed to be healthier, then went on to share that transformation. The stories go on. Here is my story. You can learn more about how the Shaklee opportunity might fulfill that passion in you, by watching here. Contact me for more information.


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Labor & Delivery: Shaklee Mom Recommendations

So you’re going to have a baby? Me too.
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Photo credit: Robb Davidson Photography

If you’ve been taking care of your body and your baby with the great prenatal supplements from Shaklee and now you’re getting ready to have your baby. What do you need for labor, delivery and those first few weeks after birth.

Aside from the “Labor Line” which is really the sports nutrition line, there are a lot of great Shaklee products that can help in the labor and recovery process. As I am packing my own bag for the hospital this week, I packed what I had used from past labors and got some great recommendations (all listed here) from other Shaklee moms!

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Pre-labor:
If you have not already been on a probiotic, you will want to consider adding one as you prepare for labor. I also recommend being on a prebiotic for the weeks ahead of labor and the weeks after. We pass along our gut flora to our babies which effects their skin, their immunity and their digestion. Probiotics have been proven to relieve the issues considered colic. To prepare their guts ahead of time and then provide the probiotic and prebiotic through breast milk will help with digestive issues like colic, will provide immune help, and will also help prevent mastitis. (These two products are particularly important if you will be on an antibiotic during labor due to GBS). Shaklee offers the most bio-available probiotic option on the market with their triple-encapsulated patented delivery system.

If you have not already been taking a DHA supplement, consider adding OmegaGuard to help prevent postpartum depression. Taking the Optiflora as well as additional Vitamin D can also help with this.

Shea Butter is a great product for your stretching skin—both healing and soothing.

Joint and Muscle Cream is a great help for sciatic pain.

Performance is a great and very healthy hydration drink that will help with early contractions that are due to dehydration.

 

During Labor:
Hydration: Performance was created for optimal hydration for a endurance man-powered flight. If anyone needs endurance it’s a woman in labor.

Energy: Energy chews are an easy way to have vitamins and a little caffeine to keep you going during those very long and difficult labors.

Snack bars are a great option to have when you are able to eat.

Stress Relief Complex or Gentle Sleep Complex to relax .

Post Labor: Recovery
Physique was created and normally used for recovery from weight-lifting, distance runs or rides, etc. This recovery drink was recommended for me to take after labor. Now, I would never go to the hospital without it. I consumed about a half or more of the canister within the first two days of each of my daughters births and I believe it was what made it so easy for me to move around and get active quickly. Since then, I have heard that some doctors even recommend it after hip and knee surgeries, etc., for better recovery.

Herb-Lax is a great and much healthier alternative to the stool softeners you are given at the hospital.

Post Labor: Nursing
Along with the Optiflora products mentioned above, adding Vitamin D3 will help provide the Vitamin D needed for your baby. Often doctors tell you that you need to add Vitamin D drops to a nursing baby and often add iron. But if the nursing mother is not deficient in these items, the nursing baby will not be either. Babies whose mothers have been taking Vita Lea and Vitamin D3 do not show these deficiencies.

Nursing mothers need to have enough protein and nutrients to provide enough for both them and their baby—yet it is difficult to get all of that in a healthy way. Shaklee180 smoothies not only provide the protein but also fiber and other nutrients, help prevent unhealthy cravings, boost muscle for recovery and metabolism boosting, AND a lactation consultant told my friend that they increase milk supply!

If there is a milk supply issues, Alfalfa is a natural way to stimulate milk production (along with all its other great benefits).

This note from a customer was also very informative for nursing issues: “I had to consult a lactation specialist for feeding issues with my daughter a couple months ago. Among her paperwork I discovered that for nursing Mom’s it is helpful to take Lecithin or have some on hand. If there is a plugged duct–which is a common occurrence for some – her data recommended taking two lecithin three times a day until the plug dissolves. Lecithin, being a natural emulsifier, works with breast milk too and is totally safe/healthy for babies via breast milk.”
Lecithin is a natural compound that helps your body’s ability to absorb and make use of fat-soluble nutrients, which are critical to a wide range of body functions. The natural soy lecithin in each capsule contains linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid that our bodies cannot make; choline, a neurotransmitter component; and inositol, which plays a role in metabolic regulation.

Post Labor: Baby Blues
OmegaGuard and B Complex, as well as VitaD3 can help give your body what they need to prevent and recover from baby blues.

 

This is a very brief overview of some helpful products for the expectant mom. Contact your Shaklee distributor for additional details and to put together a plan for your healthy labor! These are all tried and true recommendations from Shaklee Moms all over the country. Best to you in the birth of your baby!


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Cloth Diapering with Shaklee

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Since you’ve seen that I cloth diaper…

Since my #ShakleeEffect video (watch here) came out, with the story of how I met Amber and we watched her daughter’s life transform, starting with finding a solution for cloth diapers, many have asked me about my cloth diaper cleaning routine with Shaklee products.

I don’t claim any of this is revolutionary or amazing but I hope it helps someone!

 

Quickly, in case you want more information:
Why do I cloth diaper? It’s frugal, it’s green, and I like using the cloth on my kids skin instead of the disposables.
How hard core am I? Not. I use disposables overnight and on vacation. And to church. Don’t be intimated by my version of cloth diapering.
Is cloth diapering hard? No. It’s way easier than I thought it was going to be. And I don’t think it is any more “gross” than regular diapers.
Why Shaklee? In general, I trust Shaklee (see more here) and it’s SO affordable on top of safe, natural, green, good for cloth diapers and like Amber says in the video—I can use it on EVERYTHING we wash.

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So how do I clean my diapers:
When breast feeding exclusively:
I keep a bucket of cold water by the changing table and toss all the diapers right in the bucket. They soak in prep for washing.

In an HE front loader, this soaking is especially important because of the minimal water used in the HE. I then put about 2 tsp (or a squirt with the pump—I don’t measure it) of Fresh Laundry liquid into the detergent section. This product is very concentrated and very effective so you don’t need a lot. Other than adding the detergent (same amount) to the main load, at this stage there is no difference in a traditional top-loading washer. I was the diapers on hot (mine then has a cold rinse).

While EBF I don’t see a need to do additional cycles with the machine but see tips below if you are not seeing sufficient results due to the variance in your washer.


When solids are introduced:
I highly recommend getting a sprayer. To me, this has been a crucial part of the process with cloth diapers. Click here to see the one we have used. Know that this is an art form in my opinion and may take some practice (and some extra Basic G until you get the hang of it).

We keep a bucket/garbage can in the bathroom and toss pee only diapers in there directly and spray poop ones off as much as possible into the toilet.

In an HE front loader, I recommend one of two things depending on your washer (and the time you have). Use either the “water plus” option to add additional water or do a cold “rinse only” cycle before the regular cycle. I then add the same 2 tsp (or a squirt with the pump—I don’t measure it) into the detergent section. I then add about 3-4 drops  (I don’t actually measure this either) of Basic G into the “bleach” section. This helps remove any smells or any yeast or mold issues. This is also helpful because I have found that as the children get older, they use less diapers in a day which mean diapers sit for longer periods of time.

In a traditional top-loader, the process would be the same other than removing the additional water/rinse steps.

You can use Basic G with the EBF diapers as well. If you pour in too much Basic G, it’s not a problem.

 

How do I dry my diapers?
Although different companies make different recommendations, I choose to hang-dry my covers and dryer wash (on medium) my inserts. I DO NOT use dryer sheets or fabric softener (even Shaklee’s—though I use it on my clothes)


What about when diapers needs to be stripped?
When diapers need to be stripped, I use a large bucket and put 1 scoop of Nature Bright and 1 tsp of Basic H and 1 tsp of Basic G (for every eight diapers) and fill with hot water. Then I soak the diapers and inserts for 24 hours. Then run on two hot cycles and one cold cycle.


What about cloth wipes?
For some reason I have not done this with my first two children, but plan to with baby #3. I will be using my sister’s wipe “recipe” and process. The truth is I did attempt this with baby #2 and it was the process that wasn’t working for me, so I am grateful for this new process!

Wipe Recipe:
1 16 oz spray bottle of water
1-2 tsp Basic H (PH balanced)
6-8 drops Tea Tree Oil

Wipe Process:
Have a container of baby washcloths, cloth wipes, or baby blankets cut to squares
Spray wipes directly before use
Wash with diapers

UPDATE:
So, since my second child has officially reverted back to diapers, we decided to give cloth wipes a try. It has been GREAT!  And I think because I use Basic H in the mix (and try to get most of the poop onto the diaper which will be sprayed) I can just place the wipes into the bucket I keep by the changing table (for pee diapers). I have had no stains (it’s been about four weeks) and no issues. Hope that is helpful!

 

Was this post helpful? Do you have any great advice too add? Have you also had great success with Shaklee products and cloth diapering?

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This is not my garden.

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I am not a gardener. This spring I was incredibly relieved that after three years of attempting to cultivate a vegetable garden, my husband suggested we just skip it this year. (YAY!!!)

That might surprise you. Maybe not. But I FEEL like I should have a vegetable garden.  It’s Healthy. Green. Frugal. Right? But I don’t enjoy it and I am not good at it. I enjoy (with much gratitude) the garden gifts my in-laws and friends give me and I love the IDEA of a vegetable garden, but plotting, planting, watering and cultivating plants is just not an area I am good at or get excited about. My husband can tell you how many house plants and flowers he has bought me over the years that I always appreciate receiving, but once in our house barely had time to wilt before they died. Even the heartiest of house plants have never stood a chance in our home. It’s where they come to die.

As my husband and I discussed this whole topic and worked through the decision to not attempt a fourth year of gardening we realized there is an important clarification to be made in our minds and it relates to the name of this blog, “War On Average.” At first glance the message in the name might come across as saying you have to be a cut above in every way. Mastering every area of your life. But “War On Average” doesn’t mean you have to be awesome at everything. It means doing the things that you are passionate about really well. Showing and pursuing on-going excellence in those areas. It also means appreciating when other people do the things they are great at and appreciating how they bless you…instead of envying their ability or giftedness. Ability and passions are gifts to be enjoyed and shared.

Like my in-laws. This is their garden. It’s beautiful, natural, flourishing. They love being outside and working in the vegetable and flower gardens. They love the dirt on their hands. And they remember to water and they remember to go get the fresh herbs before they cook their meals in the evenings. We are blessed to live close to them and enjoy the fruits of their labor.

Though it may be cliche’, we are “blessed to be a blessing.” How have you blessed those around you with your gifts and passions? How have you been blessed by the giftedness of others? Where are you pursuing giftedness in areas that you are not passionate about? Where are you pursuing passions in areas that you might not be gifted in? Would it be a relief like it was for us when we decided not to plant a garden, to allow yourself the freedom to not FEEL like you have to be a master of an area of life you are not passionate about? Who is in your life that might be better at something you are feeling pressured to master yourself? How can you encourage them, instead of compete with them?

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Prenatal Supplementation

prenatal supp

 

Most women seem to have an instinctual sense of the importance of nutrition during pregnancy, especially prenatal vitamins, even before becoming pregnant. A large volume of research has proven that having many of the vital nutrients contained in quality prenatal vitamin before conception is very important to the health of the baby.  And the truth is, whether you are “trying” or not, as a woman, you should consider supplementation—not because you “could” get pregnant but because there are nutrients that your body needs. (Click this link if you wonder “why supplement?”)

So, as I did my research and carefully decided what to take I chose Shaklee because of the quality, history and bio-availability of Shaklee’s supplements. What we like to call The Shaklee Difference: always safe and always works. This is a cute slogan, but it is also backed up within an incredible 60 years of integrity in research and development by some of the best scientists and doctors. To read more about the Shaklee Difference, you can check out my friend Stephanie’s blog post. To see how Shaklee describes these standards, click here (But there is MUCH more information on this if you’d like to learn more. I wrote a post on this too!). Last, but definitely not least, to see one of many amazing accounts of how the Shaklee Difference changes lives, watch Ashley’s story here.

When you compare the Shaklee Difference to the recent studies that discovered lead in prenatal vitamins and popular store bought children’s vitamins the “always safe” and the “always works” claim is very important. (Read more about the study and the effects of lead in this great blog post) Shaklee’s design, ingredients and formulation ensure that the nutrients I am consuming in something like a prenatal actually get to my baby. This video has helped a lot of women realize that too: Shaklee Vs. Top Brand Supplements.

The basic program I recommend based on prenatal needs would be:
Vita Lea, is a high quality multi-vitamin, multi-mineral with high quality iron. Recently, Vita Lea with iron was updated for be an EVEN BETTER prenatal. It has been updated with additional folic acid and iodine.

Here is a great video to cover the updates and some other great information on Shaklee for pregnancy!

OmegaGuard contains your DHA for your babies brain development and also when taken during the third trimester can help prevent PPD. Here is one of many articles that support taking omegas during pregnancy.

This program costs about $25/month. It is an affordable and trustworthy program for the health of your child and of course is backed by Shaklee’s money back guarantee. There is also a great pack that includes the LifeShake (below).

 

A few other supplements you may want to consider for part or all of your pregnancy are:
Osteomatix: This calcium/magnesium supplement is often taken right before bed to help with sleep (even not during pregnancy) and prevent leg cramps common during pregnancy. Taking this also can calm the baby after birth (if you’re breastfeeding)

Optiflora: This powerful probiotic has a patented triple-encapsulated pearl to make sure that the cultures actually make it to your lower intestine without being destroyed by digestive acids. It helps with digestion issues, improves immunity, and also helps replenish and regulate your stomach flora which is passed on to the baby in utero and can help aid in their digestion, boost their immunity, and aid in so many health benefits associated with good gut flora. This is especially important if you are on antibiotics during your pregnancy or while in labor. Supplementing with it while nursing can help with colic and eczema common with a baby’s sensitive skin. (I personally chose to take a ½ tsp of the prebiotic as well during the last month of pregnancy and the first month of nursing to help my baby build a healthy gut. As a result, our kids have had minimal to no stomach or digestive issues).

VitaD3: Some women require additional Vitamin D, depending on where you live, what you eat, and your own body’s need for Vitamin D. Here is a recent article about this.

Stomach soothing complex. This is something a lot of women swear by during pregnancy when they are feeling nauseous. As an aside, many women with morning sickness have switched from the doctor prescribed prenatal to the regimen I’ve described above and noticed a remarkable decrease in nausea during pregnancy.

Vita-C: Helps boost your immune system and maintain the elasticity of skin in order to prevent stretch marks.

B-Complex provides a great boost in energy and also helps regulate mood and increase focus. It also helps with cravings (bonus)!

LifeShake is a great additional for a prenatal regimen! For busy women trying to makes sure they get the protein and nutrients, LifeShake is a great option for a breakfast or lunch, or for a midnight snack (that was almost daily for me with my son). Shaklee’s safety standards can give you confidence to get this ideal form of protein while you are pregnant. Additional benefit: because LifeShake balances blood sugar, having this shake will help reduce cravings!

 

A simple alternative option from Shaklee, though, would be Vitalizer, which includes all the supplements I’ve discussed so far in a daily vitamin pack; your multi-vitamin, B-complex, C, E, Omegas, Probiotics and more. This is a very popular, easy, and nutrient-rich option for prenatal care. Vitalizer has also recently be updated to make it an even more ideal prenatal!

Want to order Vitalizer and LifeShake together? Save money with one of our packs!

And click here for information on labor and delivery with Shaklee.

 

Have you used Shaklee for your healthy pregnancy? If so I’d love to have you share your experience.

 


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Healthy Changes: Slow Cooked, Not Microwaved       

I had so much fun last night hosting a conference call with women all over the country on tips and tricks to eating healthy. It’s been rewarding to share what I have learned over the past twelve years of pursuing a healthier life for my family. What I may not have mentioned yet on this blog is that I have not always known how to live a healthy lifestyle. When I got married in 2001, I only knew how to make spaghetti and meatballs. Literally. Ask my husband. That’s pretty much all we ate. Oh and bruschetta. I had become so proficient with anything that included noodles and tomato or pesto sauce that I could have been nominated as the “least Italian, Italian cook.” After a few months of weight gain and feeling pretty crummy, we knew we had to make a change. (Well, honestly, Ryan knew we had to make a change and suggested I learn how to steam some broccoli).

From that time on, Ryan and I have ventured, more slowly at some times than others, into health. As we have learned more and more we’ve made changes to our diets, our fitness, our home, and our supplementation as we continue (even now) to learn more. At other times it has been a slower process as we have worked to overcome bad habits from a lifetime before or gone through periods of trial and error to determine what kind of nutrition, exercise or lifestyle changes fit our life and biology best.

The other thing I have not shared here is that I don’t love to cook. (There’s a reason my default cooking mode was boiling noodles and stirring a can of sauce on the stovetop) I shared with my guests on the call last night that I often laugh that I have a blog with recipes on it. It’s pretty hilarious. So even learning how to cook and how to have fun with it—it is a process.

I want this platform at WarOnAverage.com to be inspiring to my guests who read it, not discouraging. Some change can be instant and other change HAS to be gradual. So, as you continue to see me talk about nutrition, food prep, and how my family eats please remember these things:

  1. My cooking career started with a cardboard box of penne & a powder that turned into pesto sauce.
  2. It took trial and error and more burnt and crispy broccoli than anyone should consume to teach myself how to cook vegetables.
  3. I spent my teen years living off box pasta, Market Day chicken patties and fast food.
  4. We did not make all the changes cold turkey, it’s been a gradual process.
  5. I do not love to cook.
  6. I cook a few times a week and then serve a lot of leftovers because I don’t have a ton of time.
  7. We eat really healthy 90% of the time (we have weekend cheat meals, we go out to eat with friends, we let our kids have ice cream and cake at their birthday parties). We strive for balance.
  8. If we ever have a meal at your home we will enjoy whatever is prepared and never expect others to cook anything special for us. We just eat a certain way at home, most days, and don’t stress about the rest.

As you explore your own ways to change your diet and live a healthier life, I hope these realities encourage you, that this process is doable—for anyone.