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Happy Holiday Weekend!

I hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend, and hopefully were able to spend it with those you love the most! We spent the weekend with some of my family, and it was so great to see a sister that lives far away! She and I also share a birthday, and being able to spend our birthday day together for the first time in years was super special! We sure didn’t think that when we were kids, but now? It’s the best thing ever! ;)

It’s been two years since I first talked about my favorite supplements and how they have helped my health so much! I went from being exhausted, drained, so little energy, being overwhelmed by little things, to thriving as a mom and wife, to have energy to get up in the morning, having my hormones balance out, and feeling great throughout the day! As a mom, when you’re busy with four little kids and you feel awesome, it is something you want to tell people about, because you want other people to know what it’s like to feel that too!!
So, big news!!! Plexus is now having the BIGGEST SALE OF THE YEAR – their annual Black Friday sale, except it’s Cyber Tuesday instead! :)  I wouldn’t dream of not sharing that happy news with those of you on our Team Vitality, so I’m just sending out this email to give you a heads-up, if you’re not already aware! The sale extends from now until Wednesday, November 30.
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The sale is fabulous, PLUS you get to enter the busy month of December with optimal health, and energy for all that the schedule demands! I don’t ever want to be without my favorite supplements, and especially not during extra-busy times. :) So I’m super excited about getting them for a discounted price!

That’s why I wanted to let you know about it too! If you’ve been thinking about Plexus and are waiting for a sign, well, this is your sign. :) If you have any questions about which products may be best for you, then please feel free to send me a message. I’d love to chat with you!

If you already know you want to try it [and have the 60-day money-back guarantee to back you up in case you’re not completely satisfied – which now applies to customers AND ambassadors!] then you can follow my link here.

www.plexusslim.com/claritayoder

We have a team of over 500 families, and it’s constantly growing. Being able to help people as their health goals is something I hold as an honor and a privilege, and I absolutely love helping other people to feel their best! If you’d like to be part of our team and get amazing support as well as learn to know other fabulous women, come over here!

And if you have any questions, please don’t be afraid to let me know!

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If you’ve already been working with another ambassador, then please refer back to him/her for purchasing.  I don’t intend to take someone else’s person away from them. ;)

 

 

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Happy Monday, you all!

It’s one of my favorite days of the week, and today included a brunch with friends then office time while the boys napped and the girls were at Monday School. It’s my at home day this week, and I love that – feeling like I can get organized for the week ahead. Especially when it’s a busy holiday week, and the next few days are extra busy!

I’ve done a little bit of “fluffing the nest” for autumn, as I’m sure many people are also doing with Thanksgiving coming up! Next week that’s going to change into winter décor (yaaaaay!!) but before it does, here’s a little peek at my house this week.

It’s that time of year when the weather suddenly turns chilly, and all I want to do is curl up with a cozy blanket and sip a hot drink! :) We’ve had an unusually mild autumn, and it’s been wonderful to still be in short sleeves and have the kids play outside, but now that winter is coming I’m so excited about that too. Namely, about snow. My snow-loving heart can’t wait!

It really can be the simplest things in decorating; a candle burning, a cozy blanket, a pillow, some mugs set out for hot chocolate, a little spot that invites, “Come and sit!” But the main thing for me about fall décor is to make it cozy and inviting. Spring and summer need to say, “Be refreshed! Be energized!” And fall and winter need to speak, “Rest. Warmth. Cozy.”

Autumn decorating to me is pretty simple – adding lots of neutrals and whites, plush throw blankets in the living room to snuggle up while we read books or watch a movie, changing summer floral pillows out for a more wintery look. I don’t do a lot, or any actually, with orange and brown – I just keep it neutral and buy a few white pumpkins to add in for seasonal effect.

For the living room I added a cozy white blanket, fur pillow, and navy pillows to the sofa area. I kept the gold pillows that were already there, just added and changed out a few around them. Gold is my favorite neutral right now! I can hardly get enough of it, and it will be a sad day when it’s not as fashionable anymore. I’ll need to find a new crush.

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[Yes, that is a tufted sofa, and yes it came from Craigslist! My forever BFF.]

With four kids in the house, it’s not going to be perfect. And that’s okay. I don’t want perfect – I want a home that my family feels like is a place of rest and of safety, and I want it to be beautiful. That’s my criteria. :)

Another favorite thing for me to add for the cozy factor are furs and sheepskins. On the back of a sofa, on a piano bench, across a bench at the kitchen table… Because my house has mostly neutrals, it needs to have a lot of texture to make it look cozy, and furs and sheepskins do that well!

 

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And just a bit of cozy in the kids’ bedrooms as well.

Girls’ room ~ fur pillow, flannel sheets for those cold nights. little-girls-room-for-autumn

Hudson’s room:
Buffalo plaid pillow, cozy bedding.

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And of course there are some amazing inspirations online. I perused Arhaus on Pinterest because they are just so beautiful, and found these images that I just love.

Tufted sofa in navy (my new color love).

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Soft pillows. Everyone can always add more pillows. To comfortable sectionals, accent chairs, you name it. arhaus-4

Adding some woody touches, one in brown, and the other in gold.

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And I was super honored to find my Thanksgiving table idea pinned on their site!

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It’s a busy week for us, and I’m excited about seeing far-away family and spending time with those I love so much! Enjoy your holiday, friends!

 

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I know, it’s already November, and here I am talking about gardening. But for real, it’s 70 degrees outside and so I’m just going to pop this little flower post in here before it turns into winter, probably, tomorrow.

So! Our back yard. Hudson holds his thumb and pointer finger an inch apart, put them up to his eye and squints, then says, “Our back yard is DIS LITTLE.” It’s kind of true. About the size of a postage stamp. The kids play kick ball in the back yard and have to make sure they don’t kick each other every time they kick the ball. Sort of kidding, but not really.

A small outdoor space is one of the biggest challenges for us… and we have four kids. SO! You can only imagine the energy levels around here. I can’t even say, “Go run around the house five times!!!” like I would in Georgia, because our house is attached to the house next door. If they run around the backyard five times it would take 30 seconds and they’d get super duper dizzy. hashtag first world problems

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// watering my container gardening pots, to bring color and cozy // little-pots small-container-gardening

Part of me feels silly even talking about small spaces, because in a broad sense, our house is bigger than 99% of the world’s houses. Even at 1300 square feet. We are so incredibly blessed it’s hard to even comprehend it. I mean, I have a house to live in, a cozy warm house. Many people of the world would at least want a shelter to go into at night. Let’s face it: even those of us in the Western World with “small houses” are incredibly blessed.

So in talking about small spaces, I want to first get to a very basic level, but an extremely fundamental thing, of gratitude. We will always always have someone we can compare ourselves too. Small house people compare themselves to big house people. Big house people compare themselves to mansion people. Teeny shack people compare themselves to small house people. Bottom line: there will always be someone who has it nicer than you. Bottom line: get over it. Embrace where you ARE, not just where you wish you’d be. And if you’re in your dream house, then embrace that too! No need to feel guilty, just use it as an opportunity to give and to bless the people around you, even if it’s your family.

It’s a little scary, the things that I might even just think to myself, that comes out of the mouths of my kids.

“I can’t wait until we have a bigger house, then we can have company more often.”
“If we’d just have a bigger house, then we wouldn’t get bored so quickly.”
“Everyone else seems to have a bigger house than we do.”

It’s scary, I’m telling you. They’re like little mind readers. Or maybe, soul readers. And the same goes for when I’m focusing on contentment.

“I really like our house, because it doesn’t take much work to take care of it.”
“Our room is really cozy.”
“Having a little house is fun, because then you get to go out and do more stuff.” ;)

It’s like a mirror that speaks my inner thoughts. Yikes.

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Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, backyard spaces. Gardening and flowers, that’s right.

For me, the benefit of having a small outdoor space is that we can mow, weedeat, and pull weeds all in the time-consuming space of 15 minutes. No joke.

The challenge is to be creative, to bring beauty into something that has to be fully functional. We ain’t got time for just pretties, y’all. But goodness, I do love my pretties.

My husband is also an avid gardener. Avid, meaning, he loves it. Even if it’s just 15 square feet that he’s got. Bless. So he planted tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, watermelon, as well as basil, cilantro, and another herb. I think. [Apparently I never used it because I can’t remember what it was. Oops. hashtag next year goals ] The tomatoes and peppers kept us supplied all summer and we’re still eating them!

// gumdrop tomatoes – perfect for kid snacks //

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But when kids have a part of something, it helps them own it and take pride in their hard work, rather than just see something that we do and they benefit from.

This year Zoe and Olivia each planted a little pack of zinnias in front of the vegetable garden, and it was such fun to watch them grow! We were envisioning a cute little row, maybe 12 inches high, full of sweet little flowers. What we didn’t know is that they would grow up to 5 feet tall, covering the path in front of it, hiding all the lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, and any other veggie growing behind it. Oops. But it brought such beauty to our little back yard, and we had fresh-cut zinnias all summer long! I counted at least 15 different shades of colors in that little space, it was amazing! And I didn’t know that zinnias could be so diverse, and so amazingly beautiful! They quickly became a favorite, and the girls loved cutting fresh bouquets and taking them to friends throughout the summer.

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An extra sweet thing about the zinnias too… After we planted them, and before they were fully grown, Ben’s youngest sister passed away at 18 years of age. In the midst of the sadness and loss with that, we remembered that Bekah’s favorite flowers were zinnias. And so as we loved our fresh flowers this summer, we also thought of Bekah and were constantly reminded of her beautiful life. That was just an extra-special touch from God.

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So if your space is small, if you don’t want to spent a lot of money, or if you just don’t have room for many things, then plant zinnias. :) Add a few tomato and pepper plants, and you’ll have yourself a darling little garden.

We also did a deck renovation which I might show another time, because all of us love to be outdoors – especially in a region where you can practically live outside all summer the weather is so beautiful. It’s not big either, or perfect, but it is wonderful and provides us with a quiet outdoor retreat. Essential when you live in the city. :)

I’d love to hear from my other small-space friends too! What are some of your favorite plants, shrubs, and flowers for small spaces? Or an essential outdoor item for you?

Happy Monday, my friends!
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I’m a firm believer that the books we read can shape and impact our lives tremendously! My mother instilled a deep love of books within her children, and I’m honored to now pass along that same love to my own little ones!

We are in the middle of more than four books at the moment, but I’ll highlight only four of them right now – two for the kids, and two that I’m reading.

 

KINGDOM TALES

This book came with our history & literature curriculum for the year, and it was a brand new one for me. It didn’t take longer than a chapter or two into it that I realized this is a classic tale, and one that rivals John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress and C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia in quality and even in story line and setting. The stories captivate my 7 & 9 year olds, but is a little above what my 4 year old can grasp. He does still love to listen in though, and even if he doesn’t understand everything, it’s still good soul and brain development for him.

Found on Amazon

“IT’S A JUNGLE OUT THERE!”

This was one out of a set of three that my mom read to us kids years ago, and I remember just loving them! So l purchased the set for us, and we are reading them together as a family. The books are written by someone who grew up in the jungle as a missionary kid, so they are full of adventure and meaning. And, oh my WORD. His writing style just kills me! I don’t know if anyone else will find his stories as humorous as I do, but the way he writes will literally have me doubling over in laughter, tears just rolling down my cheeks! That is a very very rare book that will do that. Needless to say, it’s quickly become a family favorite. :)

Also found on Amazon, and there is a Kindle version too.

 

CLEAN HOUSE WITH KIDS

Tricia is someone I started following years ago when we both blogged, and then I started following her in Instagram too. She and her husband have four adorable little children, and I loved what I saw in her as she raised her family – hard working, lots of love, but she was very intentional about how having kids doesn’t mean having a messy, cluttered house! In fact, her decision to get rid of a lot of toys and simplify even made some big-name websites, because her ideas are so unique and they work!! So when I knew she was writing a book, of course I wanted to get it. :) It’s easy to read, and SUPER practical, which I love! I’ve told people it reminds me of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (Marie Kondo), but for someone that has KIDS!! There are a lot of organizing and practical tips out there, but I’ve found they are largely written by someone who is a) single, or b), has 1-2 [grown] children. For someone in the thick of it with little ones, I loved how practical it was, and how she advocates that even homes with lots of children in them can be beautiful!

Find it here

THE LIFE-GIVING HOME

Sally Clarkson has been a long-time favorite author of mine. Her children are now grown, but this time Sally and her daughter Sarah co-write a delightful book together on family and the home. It’s divided into sections that go along with the months of the year, and I just want to sit and drink it in! I consider Mrs. Clarkson a sort of mentor to me as I raise my family, and nourish the souls of my children.

Find it on Amazon, as well as Kindle

 

This weather, with the air turning just a bit cooler, makes me want to curl up with a book and a hot cup of tea. :) These days, with a lot of little ones around, I need to be very intentional about making that happen, but it’s rewarding and refreshing when I do!

Happy Wednesday, you all!

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P.S. Thank you for your kind words in welcoming me back! What a gift to be surrounded by such kindness and warmth! <3

 

I blow the dust off this blog, look over a few things, and smile. This has been a place of meeting such great women, of new friendships birthed, of a few stories and a bit of life from my family shared, and it’s special. It’s been a good break, this year and a half of hardly posting at all, of months passing without me even logging in. Sometimes stepping away is the best thing we can do.

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It’s been a season of incredible change for us the past 18 months. Selling our much-loved cottage, moving 800 miles, renovating a little city house, having our 4th child… I wasn’t sure if blogging was still something for me. Maybe it was over, just for the season of our life at the Cottage, and since the Cottage is gone, blogging is gone too?

But I’ve still been writing. Journaling, writing down thoughts for myself, even if no one else sees them. Writing is just part of me, whether or not it’s public. I expect it’s like that for a lot of people.

And lately I’ve been wanting to resurrect this blog again. Not in the same way that I blogged before, with an old cottage, our “dream home,” of DIY’s and projects, but rather coming from a completely different perspective. We’re in a temporary house right now, small. It’s cozy, but challenging for the size of our family. It’s not our forever house, but we’ve been here a year, and may be here a while yet.

 

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The blog-world is filled with stunning homes, people’s dream homes. Their forever homes, where they have everything exactly as they want it. And I’m happy for them! Don’t we all wish for that? :)

What’s been on my heart to write about is different though… What if we aren’t in our dream home? What if we struggle to make the space work? What if a room gets rearranged 5 times and I cry tears of frustration because I just can’t make it work?! What if there are 12 steps from your front door to your back door, and your master bedroom is on the 3rd story and your laundry is in the basement? hashtag legs of steel

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All of this has been me. Sometimes still is me. But I am determined to find a place of contentment, of not just enduring, but of thriving, right here and right now. I’m guessing there are probably a lot of other women in the same place, who have amazing strength and have chosen joy and have thrived in places that others have overlooked. Women who make a tiny space a sanctuary, where sunbeams dance even in the smallest of homes, and hearts sing and are glad because of the peace that is found in the heart of the Homemaker. And there are others who have a hard time, who wrestle and struggle, and think happiness won’t come for them until they are in the place of their dreams. Or at least, a place that has a yard bigger than a postage stamp, or more than one bathroom for a family of 6! Or maybe you’re perfectly contented, and wonder what all the fuss is about. ;)

Wherever we find ourselves, I’m wanting this to be a place of encouragement, of linking arms and encouraging us to BE the women that truly make our homes what they are.

What I’ll be doing the next few weeks, perhaps months, is what I’m calling “The Little House Series.” Things I’m learning about small spaces, both in soul and practically, and sharing real parts of my own journey of choosing joy and contentment. Looking forward to chatting soon.

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Nearly two months ago, my husband’s beautiful youngest sister passed from this life into the World Beyond. Eternity is the place we all long to go if we know Jesus, but for those of us left behind, it always seems too soon to say goodbye.

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This was a tribute that Ben and I wrote as part of the family tribute, read at the funeral service:

Rebekah Suzanne Yoder, 18, was a beloved daughter, sister, aunt, and friend, who was entirely devoted to serving her Lord Jesus with her whole heart and life. She accepted Christ as her Lord and Savior at a young age and lived her days in serving others.

Bekah was full of life and laughter, and filled with passion and integrity and purity. She was not satisfied with the status quo, but wanted to live a life of meaning and purpose for the glory of Jesus. Her relationship with Jesus was her rock through the challenges she faced in her life, and gave her the strength to live with joy.

The meaning of Rebekah’s name is “Captivating”, and she truly was that captivating beauty to the people in her life. Her striking blue eyes and blonde hair made her a natural beauty, and her sparkle of life made her a joy to be around. “Suzanne” means “Graceful Lily” which brings laughter, because she often joked about how clumsy she was.

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She lived her life poured out for other people, for her family and her friends and those around her. She loved deeply and unconditionally. Those who knew her loved her ready smile and warm hug, and felt her warmth and kindness. She was a friend to everyone, and loved the girls in her youth group, and took special interest in those much younger and older than herself too. Bekah was a good conversationalist, and made people feel special and that they mattered, no matter who they were. Bekah wasn’t a person to be in the spotlight, but rather wanted to be talking with people around her, interested in their lives, and focusing on other people.

Relationships were so important to her, and as the youngest in her family of 9 children, she treasured her family and loved to spend time with them. She spent a week at the beach with her mom and sisters for several years in a row, and loved that time of deep connecting. Many memories were made and are treasured, times of laughter and sharing and enjoying each other. She also loved her brothers and brothers in law, and respected them and was quick to ask their advice about decisions she was making.

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She was a friend to everyone, from the elderly to the little children, and was especially close to her two nieces who were born within a few years of her. She was a sweet aunt to her 18 nieces and nephews, and spending time with Aunt Bekah was always looked forward to. She was quick to sit down and read books to them, bring them into the kitchen with her, welcome them into the milk booth at market, or take them out to the barn to help with chores (even when it meant it would take her longer to get her things done J). Being babysat by Aunt Bekah was extra-special.

Bekah loved to laugh, and her sense of humor brought laughter to many people. She especially liked puns and play on words. She loved being in nature and at the ocean, and enjoyed music and playing the guitar and had a beautiful singing voice. Her choice in music sometimes brought laughter from her family and friends, because it was quirky and unique, but she liked it even if she was the only one.

The Word of God brought special richness and meaning to her, and what fueled her passion to live a meaningful life that matters in eternity. She was a deep thinker, and thought much about life and God  and people. She journaled about her relationship with Jesus, and wrote about her desire to see Jesus face to face, just the day before she passed.

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Rebekah felt deeply, and was sometimes so saddened by the sorrow and pain around her, by a world that is aching with the choices of self and sin, and even by her own imperfections and things she wanted to change in her own life.  What joy for her now to never again feel the aching of pain, but only know perfect joy, of laughter untainted by even a hint of sadness.

Some of Bekah’s dreams for the future included going to Beaver Lake Camp this summer as a counselor, and then attending an online college called Eternity Bible College, began by Francis Chan and some others. Her dreams also included marriage and children, and she had some lovely pictures saved as inspiration for those days. We drew from those pictures and requested the casket spray resemble the bridal bouquets she loved.

Bekah’s life is a true testimony to the fact that one life can make a difference, that one life matters, no matter where someone lives, or how young they are, or how short they lived. Rebekah lived deep and rich. Some people may say it is a shame that she passed from this life in the prime of her life, but in light of eternity, what a more precious time to enter eternity than in her most beautiful time, only to bloom forever in the perfect Home of Heaven. Our tears are not for Bekah: our tears are for the deep loss we feel by the aching hole she is leaving behind. But for Bekah, we feel only the purest joy, because there is no doubt that she is in the presence of Jesus. She is experiencing what we were all made for, in a place that is the truest Home anyone can know if they are followers of Christ. Bekah is experiencing LIFE as it was truly meant to be.

Our loss is incredibly deep, and the pain is overwhelming, but we want to celebrate with Bekah. She lived her life in preparation for her Heavenly Bridegroom, and kept herself pure in preparation for the Heavenly Wedding Day. That day has come, and she now knows truer Love than she could ever have known on earth. This is not how we would have expected a wedding day to be like, but for Bekah, it is the sweetest it ever could be. She is fully alive, at this moment, being delighted in by the Lover of her soul.

Bekah wanted her life to point to Jesus, and to be a reflection of His beauty in her. And sweet girl, well done. Well done.

____________________________

This song was played following the tribute, and reflects so beautifully our life on earth, and our waiting for the Wedding Day.

 

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[This picture was taken about two weeks before she passed, when she spent a week with us after little Jack was born.]

 

So I did something different during my pregnancy with baby Jack – I didn’t weigh myself at all.
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Normally I watch my weight gain pretty closely because I try to keep it at a certain amount, but this time I decided I wanted to focus on HEALTHY, not a particular weight. I wanted to really focus on eating well; satisfying my hunger with fresh vegetables and some fruits and healthy fats, lots of protein, and limiting my carbs and sugars. I’ll readily admit that I’m not a food purist at all – I ate healthily much of the time, but I did cheat too. I didn’t follow a “plan” but that was my basic rule of thumb. Oh, and I did take my favorite supplements every day too. ;)
I’ve talked about my health journey a bit before, and in case you’re wondering, it’s still continuing with results I am so thankful for! I could write an entire post on my pregnancy itself and what a world of difference it was this time around (4th pregnancy being the best ever – whaaaaat? But it’s true!)!

And my take at the end of the 9+ month experiment – I loved it! It felt very freeing to not be watching numbers and making food choices based on that. The only times that I knew anything about weight was when I’ve have my checkups, and my nurse would weigh me and I’d get a little sneak peak when she wrote the amount down on my chart. :) As best I can figure (because I don’t know my exact pre-pregnancy weight either), I gained about the exact amount as I did when I was closely watching my weight.

It was my 4th pregnancy, and it was the very best ever. I could not believe how good I felt the whole way through! I felt like I paid attention to what my body was needing to nourish a little life within me – which made me in awe of God all over again, because it’s He who created our bodies so intricately, and with such amazing intuition.

It was freeing to be able to make good food choices, and be able to exercise much of the way throughout my pregnancy (running until 30 weeks, and then a bit of walking and workout DVD’s after that).
I didn’t have a day of morning sickness (thank you, blood sugar balancing supplement!!), I had AMAZING energy (like maybe 5 naps my entire pregnancy – and we moved 800 miles, remodeled a house, homeschooled two kids…..), didn’t have any of the “normal pregnancy bowel issues”, and I absolutely LOVED being pregnant (something I could not say before; being pregnant was a gift before, but the *process* of pregnancy was difficult for me) and felt great until my delivery date. My midwife just laughed when I walked into her office at 9 days overdue, because I was wearing heels and lipstick, and felt awesome. :)

My conclusion on the matter is – HEALTH MATTERS. Giving my body health before pregnancy through healthy eating, exercise, and natural supplements, gave my body the things it needed for a wonderful, healthy life to develop.

And my post-partum recovery? I feel so well, and my recovery has been the best yet too. Oh, and another favorite part? Getting back into size 4 pre-pregnancy clothes just two weeks after delivery. Not bad for the 4th pregnancy, me thinks (I am super pumped about that one – ha ha!). I’ll be the first to say that weight isn’t everything – health is by FAR more important. But then health and weight are both in beautiful balance? Well, it’s a wonderful thing.

So today I’m so very thankful for good health, amazing supplements, and great genes (thanks, Mom & Grammy)! :)