Healthy Aldi Meal Plan

Feeding your family healthy, whole foods meals on a budget is no small challenge. One of the things that can help is to shop at a discount store like ALDI.

When I discovered ALDI last year, I was astounded at how low the prices were. I could create a menu without having to take time to check sale prices, look for coupons and the like. The smaller inventory was also nice – my brain could take a little vacation from the endless choices at larger grocery stores. If I’m especially tired or busy in a given week, I know that grocery shopping at ALDI will mean less fuss, and I’ll be out of the store quickly.

While I don’t buy everything at ALDI, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at some of the offerings. For instance, wild caught fish – extremely expensive at any other grocery store, but quite affordable if I get it from ALDI. Also, 100% pure maple syrup and organic tortilla chips. The quality of the produce has also been consistent, and at great prices too.

There are a few things I don’t buy at ALDI: other than the wild caught fish, I don’t buy meat there. I only buy grass fed meat and free range chicken. I also don’t buy milk or eggs at ALDI, those come from a local farmer. My bread comes in the mail from Breadbeckers, a local bakery that grinds their grain fresh every day. I also don’t buy any packaged foods like cereal or prepared frozen foods, but these stay off the shopping list no matter what store I’m patronizing – too many mystery ingredients and preservatives. Regardless of where you shop, reading ingredients is a must.

2010-09-14 18.47.39
Creative Commons License photo credit: Mulad

So you’ll notice that the meal plan below doesn’t include meat (other than tuna and salmon). (You might find there are many other items at ALDI you’re comfortable buying. Please leave suggestions in the comments!) Still, shopping at ALDI to stock up on a few  items, as well as doing all my weekly shopping there occasionally, keeps my budget happy. I became determined to create a meal plan based on what’s available at ALDI stores that also kept my philosophy of whole foods eating front and center. Here’s what I came up with.

(Click on the links to find printable recipes.)

Healthy ALDI Meal Plan


  1. Wild Caught Salmon with Soy/Maple Glaze,  Steamed Broccoli and Carrots, Rice
  2. Twice Baked Potatoes with Green Salad (Romaine with tomatoes, cucumbers, grated carrot, avocado)
  3. Blue Corn Organic Nachos with Black Bean Mango Salad
  4. Cheesy Tuna Patties, Sauteed Greens, Mashed Potatoes
  5. Black Beans and Rice with  Avocado Mango Salad
  6. Cheesy Broccoli Soup with Croissants
  7. Oriental Stir Fry Veggies (includes seasoning packet, no recipe needed, just follow instructions) with Rice

Breakfast Ideas:

- Oatmeal with dried fruit or raisins, serve with butter and maple syrup
- Breakfast potatoes (Red potatoes, onions, green peppers, cheese)
- Hot rice cereal (Rice cooked with milk instead of water, served with butter and maple syrup)
- Homemade granola
- Fruit and cheese plate with croissants
- Yogurt fruit smoothies

Healthy Aldi Meal Plan Shopping List

(If you would prefer to download this list for prettier printing, you can grab it via Google Documents here: Printable Healthy ALDI Meal Plan Shopping List.)

This list is organized according to the layout of most ALDI stores I’ve been to so you can save time walking through the aisles. Your local stores may not carry all of the same items mine does, but for the most part inventory is consistent. This list also assumes that you already have pantry items such as flour, soy sauce, honey, and herbs and spices.

The recipes linked above and the shopping list below are for an average family size of 4-6 people.

  • Organic blue corn chips
  • Salsa
  • Canned black olives
  • Oatmeal
  • Dried fruit, raisins
  • Pure maple syrup
  • Sour cream
  • Butter
  • Cheddar cheese (2 pounds)
  • Canned tuna (2-4)
  • Canned black beans (4)
  • 1 bag of rice
  • 1 package frozen wild caught salmon
  • 1 bag frozen Oriental stir fry vegetables
  • 1 bag potatoes of your choice
  • 1 bunch kale or collard greens
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 or 2 bunches romaine lettuce
  • 3 mangoes
  • 3 avocados
  • 1 bag of limes
  • 3 heads broccoli
  • 1 bag carrots
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 cucumber
  • Croissants

Using my saved ALDI receipts, I’ve calculated the cost of this shopping trip to be approximately $60-$70. I don’t think you can beat that with a stick.

Are you a fan of ALDI? What healthy meal plans have you come up with from their offerings?

Posted in Food | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Yard Sale Haul 6/4/12

I love a good yard sale, don’t you?

Saturday hubby and I went to a community yard sale just a mile from our house. There were 8 or 9 sales all within a couple of blocks of each other. Divine!

Hubby wanted to find a wall clock for our bedroom. He scored one for a buck. Don’t you love it when that happens?

I had baby clothes on the brain, of course. I came home with 2 very stuffed bags of new looking boy, girl and neutral newborn and 3-6 month size for about $7, including 2 brand new diaper covers: brown little gPants and a Mio Bambino cover. (Those two items alone are worth nearly $40 new.)

I also got a Boppy nursing pillow for $2 (the cover was in the wash when I snapped this pic, it came out looking like new). I snagged a really cute purple top to wear postpartum, and the blue and red tray.

I don’t know yet what I’ll use the tray for, but it was so cute I couldn’t pass it up. Any suggestions?

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Are Stay at Home Moms More Depressed?

Have you heard about a recent Gallup poll that concludes that stay at home moms experience more depression? As soon as I got wind of it, my immediate thought was, “Why, of course they do.”

(Note: This study is not the first of its kind. There have been several that came to a similar conclusion.)

That may be a surprising thought from a woman who has been a stay at home mom for 14 years. It may also be surprising that I’ve never actually experienced clinical depression. So why would I automatically agree with the study’s findings?

Because I believe it illustrates important principles about motherhood (and women in general) that perhaps our culture doesn’t readily acknowledge.

The study analyzed the results of 60,000 American women interviewed this year. It found that non-employed moms fared badly in terms of emotional health when compared to their peers. They experience more worry, more sadness, more stress, anger and depression. Low income stay at home moms fared the worst. - Why yes, I AM a stay at home Mom. How did you know? Did my need to drink my frustrations away, tip you off?

I don’t see the findings are designed to add fuel to the “Mommy Wars”. (If such a thing even exists. I think it’s something the media invented to sell magazines.) I see this survey as reflecting some important truths. Namely, the fact that women who happen to be mothers need a) intellectual stimulation b) challenging and rewarding work c) adult companionship d) spirituality in order to be happy. All people need this. Once our basic physical needs for food, clothing and shelter are met, we need something more in order to be happy.

Megan of the Happiest Mom illustrated this beautifully in a blog post about a Mother’s Hierarchy of Needs, in which she referenced (of course) Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. She puts it better than I ever could, so please take a moment to read her post.

Motherhood is glorified and elevated to Madonna status in our culture. It has a shiny halo around it. However, it’s mostly just lip service. Most people think that it’s best for women to stay at home with their children in the first years of their lives, but when push comes to shove, what do we as a culture DO to make this ideal easier to accomplish?

A whole lot of nothing.

When it comes right down to it, it’s very difficult for mothers to get the support they need to be well rounded, happy individuals in this country.

This isn’t true in much of Europe, where government policies actually put money where their mouths are. Better access to health care, better outcomes for birthing women and their babies, long paid maternity (and paternity!) leaves, in-home nursing care for postpartum women, social policies that support moms who work outside the home (like the shorter workweek of the French woman, government subsidized high quality child care, etc) and there are other examples. I don’t wish to get into a debate about politics because I don’t believe these problems will be solved in the current system.

I do wish to point out that the idea of the stay at home mom in a nuclear family situation is a very new idea. And it’s bad for a woman’s emotional health. Period.

In the not so distant past, every woman was both a stay at home and working mother. Women worked alongside their husbands to earn the family’s income. (The arrangement of the nuclear family is bad for both women and men, I feel.) And they traditionally lived alongside extended family, where they had the social support and companionship of other people. I’m not one of those people who insists everything was better in the good old days, because that’s simply not true. But I believe that many modern practices that have become common in our culture are antithetical to a mom’s well being.

As I stated earlier, I’ve never suffered from clinical depression. But I keenly remember the boredom, restlessness and even anxiety that accompanied my life with young babies and toddlers. I loved being a mom and didn’t want to return to work full time, but I was quite miserable sometimes. I think women are afraid to articulate or even acknowledge these feelings because they fear people will accuse them of not loving their children (I’ve seen women criticize other women on blog comments, saying this very thing.).

That’s ridiculous. I adore my husband, but I wouldn’t want to spend all day at home alone with him wiping his nose and butt, either. (If I did, I would probably experience caregiver stress, and nobody would criticize me for it or accuse me of not loving him.)

The social isolation I felt in my first couple of years as a mom was very difficult to endure. I was the first among my friends to begin having kids, and they all sort of just forgot about me. I didn’t want it this way, and I remember trying hard to reach out. But it was a little overwhelming trying to keep friends while taking care of a very high needs baby and sudden loss of income.

When my babies were little, I often invented reasons to leave the house just so I could interact with another person. One who wouldn’t poop on me, rub snot on my shirt, or demand something of me. I went to La Leche League meetings. In 3 counties. Just for the social interaction. Then I became a La Leche League leader so I could do something that felt challenging and rewarding. Something that other adults, my peers, would recognize as such.

I started little businesses (and finally, blogs and websites) so I could do something to keep from losing my mind. (By mind I mean intellect. I wasn’t going crazy, I was just going stupid.)  I remember counting down the minutes until my husband got home from work – which probably put an unhealthy demand on him because at the end of a long work day he was spent, and needed to retreat to his man cave. Yet I needed adult interaction, which produced a conflict. I remember having anxiety about when someone would wake up for a nap, desperate for a little recharge time. I visited my mother a lot, who thankfully lived close by during those early years.

Taking care of children and house full time involves a lot of onerous, repetitive tasks that nobody really enjoys. We do these tasks because they’re necessary, or maybe because noone else will do them. But I doubt any mentally healthy woman has ever looked at a mop and found a sense of purpose. We just try to put that spin on things in order to feel better about spending much of our lives on those duties. (Of course, moms who work outside the home accomplish these tasks too, but they’re better at prioritizing and outsourcing them.)

According to the study, low income women suffer the most.

That comes as no surprise. Being poor sucks. It increases stress levels and makes parenting far less enjoyable. Having enough money smooths out the rough edges of life. Even more interesting is this finding:

“Low-income stay-at-home moms are also more likely to say they have experienced daily worry and stress than low-income employed moms.”

No surprise here either – it’s an issue of power and control. If you’re in a bad circumstance, you usually feel better about your prospects and your life if you at least have some power over the situation. An employed low income mom has more control than a non-employed one. She’s probably also less likely to stay in an adulterous, abusive or alcoholic marriage if she has an income. Money gives you choices.

Let’s talk about the need for challenging, rewarding work for a moment. This is something all human beings need. We were created with the desire to see good things come from the work of our hands. This is why unemployed people are more depressed and more likely to commit suicide.

While being a mother is certainly challenging – I doubt any sane person would argue that – taking care of young kids can be mentally numbing. And the rewards are difficult to measure. Moms get paid in wet kisses and drool-y grins, and there is a lot of joy in parenthood, but it’s not enough. At least, not for many women I’ve known throughout the journey. I can’t think of a single mom who doesn’t have a “something else”… maybe it’s volunteer work, maybe it’s a part or full time job. Maybe it’s writing or art or … whatever.

The importance of the money you get paid to do work is not to be underestimated either. It’s a fact that money is how we reward productivity in our society. We say that moms are worth over $100,000 – but, ahem… I have yet to see a paycheck for my years of service. ;-) When my husband goes to work each day, he gets the self esteem boost of seeing his work completed (not undone in 5 minutes). He is praised by his customers. They buy him lunch, give him extra thanks in the form of tips, and at the end he gets payment. Nobody criticizes men for needing this. And nobody accuses a man of being a bad Father if he needs the self esteem boost of paid work.

If you asked a man to dig a ditch, then filled it up overnight, and asked him to dig it again the next day, he would likely go insane. This is a little bit like the life of a mom of young kids. Let’s face it. Children (and husbands) aren’t particularly good at acknowledging the work we do. The rewards aren’t as clear, and sometimes they don’t really come until decades later. “You’ll appreciate me when you have kids of your own!” Our kids don’t truly appreciate the sacrifices we’ve made for them until they’re parents.


Because of my choice to be a stay at home mom, I also put myself (and frankly, my children) at risk financially.  I touched on this on another blog when I wrote Work at Home Moms Aren’t Making the Feminine Mistake.

I know that by publishing this post I’m putting myself out there for criticism. That’s ok. I put my big girl panties on this morning. I’m just being honest. There are probably people who will skim this post not taking the time to think, or assuming inaccurate things about me or my history, or assume that I’m being defensive about my choices. When I’m not. I wouldn’t go back and make the decision to work full time outside the home. That’s not what I’m saying.

I’m saying that depression among stay at home moms is a real problem, and we need to figure out the reasons why so we can do something about it.

So that’s the bad news. The good news is that by opening this dialogue, we can at least begin to address it. Maybe women will be a little more likely to share their honest feelings with each other (and their husbands) if they know that 60,000 women in a study agree with them.

To sum up:

  • I’ve been a SAHM for 14 years. Yet I agree with the findings of this study.
  • I think we need to be more aware of these issues and how we can help stay at home mothers avoid depression.
  • Moms who work outside the home are probably happier because they enjoy a sense of identity outside their relationships with their children, challenging, rewarding work and more respect from their peers.
  • Moms don’t need to apologize for not giving up everything they enjoy – including paid work – to raise their children. It means their mental health.

What do you think of studies that point to employed moms being happier than stay at home moms? Have you dealt with depression as a mom? How do you find a balance in your life between being a mom and being a person with needs of her own?


Posted in Mothering | Tagged , , , | 14 Comments

Natural Moms Podcast #154

My guest this week is Nichi Kuechle of My Healthy

Nichi is a Parent Coach, Childbirth Educator, Doula, and Craniosacral Therapist, and Mom.

We are talking about the “Fourth Trimester”, the postpartum period. Nichi is sharing tips on postpartum support and recovery, especially for moms of multiples.
How can a mom have a healthy and happy postpartum experience? What kinds of things can she do during her pregnancy to prepare – physically and emotionally, for the new baby and postpartum recovery? These are a few of the questions we discussed.

If you are currently pregnant, please listen. I enjoyed hearing Nichi’s wisdom and perspective. If you aren’t pregnant, do your expecting friends a favor – share this program using the social media buttons below.

Be sure to check out the New Parent Toolkit available for download free on Nichi’s site!

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I’m Pregnant. And You’re Annoying.

I know, I know.

I’m feeling a little kvetchy since I’m in my third trimester. But I can’t help it. People are just annoying when you’re this pregnant.

Last weekend I saw a lot of people, and it seems every one of them have to do one of the following 3 things. Can you relate?

Source: via Donna on Pinterest



Yeah, I get it. It’s a miracle and all. I’m glowing (whatever) and all. It’s poking way out there and all, but seriously? It’s not a good luck charm. No genie will pop out and grant your wishes if you rub it.

And need I remind you? It’s a baby, yes, but it’s still inside a part of my anatomy. A part of my anatomy that would be off limits to your hands under any other conditions. My breasts are enormous right now too, want to rub all over those as well?

And let’s talk about the staring for a moment. Yes, I realize that my belly is huge. Comical, even. But so is your nose/that zit on your forehead/your beer belly/your tuckus but you don’t see ME staring do you? Let’s have a little self discipline, ok people? Staring just isn’t cool.

Gender Predi(le)ctions

What are you, an armchair fortune teller? It’s really annoying when people convincingly say “It’s a boy!” because I’m “carrying low“. (Especially when their sister-in-law standing next to them is convinced that it’s a girl because I’m “all out front”.)

Sorry folks, but I’ve “carried” every baby I’ve had the exact same way: all out front, and low. Babies do not know their gender, and they do not know that they are supposed to lie a certain way in the womb to please your crazy old wife’s tale. As if that were possible.

Midwife Wanna-Bes

“Are you sure it isn’t twins?” “Are you sure they have your due date right?” “Oh, the baby is lying THIS way” and other such comments. So annoying.

No, my team of 4 health care professionals and myself (who tracks her cycle, including cervical mucus quantity and quality, putting a check mark on it every time hubby and I get it on, etc) are wrong and you’re right. We’re way off on the dates. Never mind that although my belly seems large to YOU, I’m measuring exactly the number of centimeters I’m supposed to for this week of my pregnancy.

And yes, it IS twins. Should I send the next payment to you instead of my midwife? (Since you can tell there’s two heartbeats from a distance, without silly newfangled gadgets like a Doppler!)

And even though that same team of people says baby is head down, butt up, obviously you know more about it (since you or your wife were pregnant once) and baby is lying sideways.

But the worst of all are the impatient ones.

TRUST ME, noone is more eager than I am to have this baby out. I hate being pregnant, and much prefer labor, delivery and the newborn period to this discomfort. But your eagerness for me to go into labor is just annoying.

Girl, you’ve dropped!” “You look like you’re ready to pop!” “You have how many weeks left?”

Please. Be patient. These comments just make the last couple of months even more miserable. It also makes me want to avoid you and stay home.

Sometimes I feel like saying: “I’m pregnant. But you’re obnoxious. And I’ll have the baby. Where does that leave you?”

Ladies, tell me I’m not alone with this!

Posted in Misc | Tagged , | 7 Comments

One Perfect Day

Have you ever read a book that encouraged you to write down your idea of the perfect day?

I’ve never done it, because there are many versions of what I would call a Perfect Day. Today would be an example.

All the big kids are off at various Grandparent’s houses, so hubby and I and Ruby had the house to ourselves. As much as I would have enjoyed the kid’s company, it’s so nice to have hubby to myself occasionally. We had complete conversations. Several of them!


I slept in until 7:30. And I slept so soundly! Hubby decided to make me breakfast. We had blueberry French toast, and man it was good.

We went for a nice walk in the beautiful sunny morning, there was a lovely cool breeze. Then, we headed out for some errands. Hubby took Ruby with him to pick up some things for the house and I went to my favorite thrift store, who was having half off day.

A thrifting excursion, sans kids, on half price day?

Don’t mind if I do!

I picked up a few newborn baby girl things, and an awesome find: a like new Garnet Hill raincoat for Sadie. For $2! I also got a gorgeous pair of dressy black suede Mary Jane pumps for myself. And I couldn’t resist the tiny .50 Eiffel tower statue. To remind me that sometimes it’s good to eat, think, and parent like a French woman.

Hubby took me out to J. Christopher’s for a hearty brunch. The only thing missing was my mimosa! (I made him promise to take me back when I could have one.)

Then we headed home to put some new blinds up. We’ve had several around the house that had broken slats. I couldn’t believe how cheap these are, and felt dumb for having procrastinated on this simple task for so long. I’m feeling a little nesty and have been doing a few things to spruce up the place. Hubby is going to hire someone to do some painting. It’s amazing how little money it really takes to change/improve the look of your home.

I took a lovely nap with Ruby while hubby went mountain biking. When he got home we went for another walk.

I made a simple dinner: a salad with a little leftover chicken, black beans, avocado, chopped mango. For the dressing I put the juice of a lime in the blender, a little honey, olive oil, salt, pepper and a few pieces of mango. It was delicious!

Later that night we went out for an ice cream. In all, a perfect day.

How did you spend Monday?

Posted in Misc | 1 Comment

Countdown to Baby: A Weekly To Do List

Now that I’m in my 30th week of pregnancy, I sat down and created a weekly checklist of things I want to accomplish. Partly to simply pass the time in these final looooong weeks, but also so I feel a little more organized with the last preparations.

My babies have all come “early”, so I’m not going to plan anything tiring or difficult in the last two weeks, just fun stuff!

In addition to the weekly to-dos, there’s the daily stuff related to pregnancy I’m already doing, such as: taking at least one daily walk, doing a stretching workout (I do this one designed by Katy Bowman and it feels so good!), and I’m adding a few light weight training moves. The April issue of Fit Pregnancy magazine had a good workout, not too strenuous.

I also need to start drinking Red Raspberry Leaf tea – a quart a day. Yuck! I hate RRL tea and really have to force it down. I know how important it is, and believe drinking lots of it helped me have easy labors with at least a couple of my babies. Any tips for making it taste less horrible though? Or should I just go easy on myself and do capsules or tincture?

About a week ago, everything seemed to change for me. I started having strong Braxton Hicks contractions when I walk, along with a “pulling”, crampy feeling in my low back. Basically, it feels like early labor. Even when I lie down to have a nap, I have one BH after another. It really wears me out. I’m not sure if it’s because the baby dropped down a little (also peeing more frequently, so probably) or what, but it’s wearing on me a little. I’m trying to pace myself and stay as active as I can.

Countdown to Baby: A Weekly To-Do List


Week 30:


Week 31:

Week 32:

  • Start looking on Craigslist for a nice dresser for baby’s clothing. Buy a changing table pad to go on top.

Week 33:

  • Prenatal appointment
  • Do 15 minutes of decluttering every day
  • Schedule a blog post to publish postpartum
  • Consider joining a pregnant nudist colony, since clothing is so uncomfortable at this point. Reconsider after noting someone may post pictures to Google.

Week 34:

  • Order birth kit (it needs to be here before Week 37, midwife’s home visit)
  • Schedule a blog post to publish postpartum

Week 35:

  • Sell changing table on Craigslist. I never liked it, it just takes up space.
  • Grocery shop for disposable paper items (green gods, don’t punish me!) and extra food to cook and freeze for postpartum use.
  • Cook and freeze at least 2 meals.
  • Schedule a blog post to publish postpartum

Week 36:

  • Buy a few girl newborn clothing items. I already have some boy stuff my mom gave me. (I can always give away the items I won’t need later.)
  • Start reading the instructor texts for our 2012/2013 school year. (I started this already and am almost done. So excited about beginning!)
  • Get a homeschool routine down on paper.
  • Start potty training Ruby. If this isn’t quick and easy, wait until after baby arrives.
  • Cook and freeze at least 2 meals.
  • Schedule a blog post to publish postpartum
  • Order a new bathtub filter (no chlorinated tap water on my baby, thankyouverymuch)

Week 37:

  • Wash and sterilize linens, towels, newborn’s first outfit and cloth diapers for birth kit (per midwife’s instructions) in preparation for home visit.
  • Home visit with the midwife and her apprentices. (After this I’m all clear to have this baby at home!)
  • Start thinking about a labor soundtrack. Patsy Cline did the trick really well for baby #4, a short and easy delivery ;) Since I have nicknamed this little one “The Boxer”, then maybe Morrissey? Or Simon & Garfunkel? (Nah. S & G always makes me cry.)
  • Cook and freeze at least 2 meals.
  • Schedule a blog post to publish postpartum
  • Make a very large supply of homemade laundry detergent and cloth diaper detergent for all the extra postpartum and baby laundry. Remember to wear a mask over my nose this time. Last time I inhaled some Borax dust. Coughcough.

Any Day Now…..



My brains are all in my pelvis at this point, so nothing mentally taxing or physically draining. Just fun stuff!

Week 38:

  • Go shopping with hubby (and no kids!) for a pretty outfit to wear postpartum. Maybe a couple of those nursing dresses from Target? Also, pick up some supportive and stretchy undies for those first couple of months, and splurge on a pretty nursing bra. Go out to a nice lunch or dinner, something spicy like Indian. Or maybe Scalini’s, their Eggplant Parmesan has a reputation among local moms for triggering labor. (Who cares if it works, the food there is amazing.)
  • Get a pedicure. Must have pretty toes for birth!
  • Prenatal appointment
  • Wash newborn clothes and diapers. Fold everything, get it neatly arranged in dresser. Get all nesty.
  • Put my immediate postpartum clothing in my dresser. (Frequently make mental note: I will someday fit into my skinny clothes!)
  • At this point I’m usually experiencing hot and heavy pre-labor “warmup” pains that deprive me of sleep. Take lots of hot baths with lavender, maybe 1/4 glass of red wine occasionally.

Week 39:

  • Go see a good movie. In the theater. (Like What To Expect When You’re Expecting?)
  • Rent a funny DVD to watch at home to keep my mind off my misery and how ready I am to!
  • Put my postpartum mama cloth pads in a convenient spot in the bathroom
  • Prenatal appointment
  • Brainstorm ways to creatively preempt the “yes I’m still pregnant you clueless idiot, and NO it’s not twins” conversations.

Week 40:

  • Hmm. I’ve never made it this far into a pregnancy. Spend an entire day at the pool (it put me into labor 16 days early with #1)? Power walks around the neighborhood, complete with curious stares from the neighbors? Gaze longingly at newborn clothes? Spend “quality time” alone with hubs? ;-) What puts you into labor?


Posted in Mothering | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Natural Moms Podcast #153

My guest this week is Katy Bowman of Aligned and Well and Restorative Exercise. Katy is a Biomechanist and her blog is a wealth of helpful information for anyone who wants to prevent and reverse diseases caused by habits of modern life.

Our focus for this show:

Habits and daily disciplines to prevent aches and pains in pregnancy and prepare for an easier labor.

Katy answers my questions about belly bands for postpartum use, proper squatting form, the skinny on sucking in your stomach and getting back into shape postpartum, pelvic floor issues and more.

Listen by clicking on the grey arrow below.

(A transcript of this interview appears below if you would rather read. It’s a work in progress, it was unfinished by a transcriptionist I hired so I’m doing it myself. I’ll be adding to it throughout the week.)

Carrie :  We are joined this week by Katie from Good morning Katie.

Katy : Good morning.

Carrie : I am so excited to be talking to you. I am a huge fan of your philosophies and blog. I have three of your exercise DVDs and have some questions.

Katy : Yes. Go for it

Carrie : It is funny how sometimes you just happen upon something on the internet and don’t really know how you got there. You follow that little rabbit hole… I don’t remember how I found out about your website, but when I did I just started digging in and reading archives and searching various things and thought, “oh my Gosh this is really awesome. Makes a lot of sense.” So please tell us about yourself and your background and what you are all about.

Katy : Well, I am a Biomechanist. Biomechanics is the science, the physics of Biology, I guess it is the easiest way to say it. My specialty is applying the field of biomechanics to injury and disease. And I have always been most interested in where disease comes from… the mechanisms … the actual cause. I don’t think there is a lot of work being done to try to find the cause as much as there is a lot of work done to take care of the problem. An engineer will usually figure out what the problem is before trying to find the solution. It is a lot easier to reverse engineer something than it is to kind of  stab in the dark to make a solution.

So I have always that natural interest, but I have always come from a platform regarding the human from its original state, not the modern human because the modern human which is you know, not just the human living in the 21st or 22nd Century, but really the human as it is lived since humans were. So your earliest humans before there were cars and before there was abundant food, even agriculture. That population had all the same equipment.

We have all the same equipment, but the habits are different. So I have always kind of investigated how do the habits of modern living contribute to a set of diseases that we call affluent ailments.

Affluent ailments are all the stuff that you will likely have and that  your parents have and that your friends have. And they are very normal they become very common within our population, but it is always important to maintain the prospective of they are still diseases and injuries based on the way we live. They’re not genetic issues and they are certainly preventable if you know enough information and you know, can change the large components of the way you live. And you don’t have to give up your house and give up your food, but for example just not sitting as much in chairs makes a big difference.

And then I would say that my focus has really become the pelvis. Pelvic floor disorder, female pelvic floor disorder was my specialty in graduate school so I did my research and my thesis on. So probably how you stumbled onto the blog was through something related to pregnancy or pelvic floor disorder because even though I do the whole body it seems like that where most people are coming from. They are coming to fix something with their pelvis or their abdomen and it is usually pregnancy related. So I have a lot more women who are interested. So that is also my greatest love and I am a woman that is currently pregnant. I just had a baby, but even 10 or 15 years before that I was interested in the pelvis.

Carrie : Cool. It just came to me. I think how I found you is I by doing some Googling about Plantar fasciitis.

Katy : Oh.

Carrie : Because my husband started to develop symptoms of that. Why in the heck is that? I mean when I have heard about in the past, it was something that elderly people had.

Katy : Right.

Carrie : I think that is how I found your blog, but I did come across an article on another blog, an interview did about pelvic floor issues. I am kind of lucky in that area I guess. I mean this is my 6th pregnancy, but I have not really had pelvic floor issues that a lot of women have had in their pregnancy. So maybe I accidentally did some things right.

Katy : Great.

Carrie : But we are going to talk a lot about pregnancy because yes this is my show and I am selfish and I can ask you some questions that will help me right now!

Katy : Right.

Carrie : You mentioned things like sitting in chairs and stuff like that. About 14 years ago when I was pregnant with my first child and took Bradley husband childhood classes. There was a lot of instruction about “tailor sitting” on the floor. That was something that I kept in mind. This pregnancy has really been the most comfortable that my back and hips have ever been and I have not had the pelvic pain. And I think it is because I have tried really hard to stay out of chairs and do my walking.


(Note about the pic: This is a stretch I do every day as part of a workout that Katy designed for Fit Pregnancy. If I forget, I have severe pain in my hips that wakes me up at night!)

So what are some things other than that pregnant women should be doing to prevent those aches and pains that we know so much about and also to prepare for labor to have an easier delivery?

Katy: Well, I think I always like to start off any pregnancy conversation with getting in their mind that, that pain and pregnancy should not go together. Again it has become really culturally common, but pregnancy should not be a pain. I guess that is the easiest title to give it. And that the pains that we have in the low back, in the hips, in the ligaments, in the knees, in the feet really have more to do with the fact that we are pretty de-conditioned as humans and that goes for even for people who exercise every single day.

We are still fairly inert for as a group of people, we don’t move very much. So if women can begin to get some of their strength before they are coming pregnant that would be most ideal – meaning that keeping yourself strong enough to deal with an extra 20 and 40 pounds or more that is going to go on your frame.

And so alignment has to do with the way that all of your bones are positioned relative to each other. Alignment in the skeleton that can hold the weight very comfortably without requiring joints to collapse or ligaments to strain. And that you get a lot of muscular development in response to this extra load.

If you can imagine trying to stack a pile of books into a table that is well balanced – the books are just going to sit up there.  But if the table has one leg that is a little bit shorter or the top of the table is sitting slightly off… it might not be a big deal and it might be able to sit there in your living room as long as no one touched it, but as soon as someone stacks books on it, it begins to crumble.

(Note: Good alignment. Head on shoulders, hips over heels, bootie untucked, everything stacked up nicely!)


So you want to get to know the moves that support alignment in your body that will support the extra weight and start doing them as soon as you become pregnant. You have a lot of months after becoming pregnant where you really don’t have that burden of extra weight. So you can take your first first four to five months to start thinking about … and not just thinking actually doing some stuff.

That would include muscle tension interfering with your strength. So feet, calves, hamstrings. These are the tight muscles that tend to pull the pelvis out of alignment.

And so untucking the pelvis – which is something that a lot of people tend to do. If you are sitting down right now, chances are you are sitting with a tucked pelvis.  One of the reason Bradley had you coming out of the couches is because you slouch in the couch and so you end up having this pelvis that tips back and the alignment of your uterus and your pelvis go hand in hand. You want to keep all of those axes vertical.

So stretching those muscles and then of course not using the furniture that encourages slouching are great to transition to while you are pregnant. Even if you need to sit on a couple of pillows that is fine. Having something behind your back that really allows you to kind of slouch and then walking.

I think most people knows enough basic exercise science to know that your muscles respond to what you are doing. So as you are getting more weight, as you are accumulating more mass on your body, it is important that you take that mass and walk around with it. So that your legs and your abdominals and your pelvic floor and your back become stronger as you gain weight.

So that the relationship between your weight and the strength is always even. You never have large surges weight gain during period of inactivity. If you are still working or sitting all day long it is really important that you take breaks. Walking throughout the dayif you gain four or five pounds over a period of a month but really only walk one or two days a week, you are going to find that your body is rapidly becoming weaker.

And then once you have that weakness and then the weight because full under instruction not to the pain comes from. So stretching, walking, reducing your sitting time and learning your alignment will probably my basic essential list for pregnancy and it will help with your delivery as well.

Carrie : Okay, and I will have you know that I am sitting with my bootie sticking out.

Katy : Okay, good.

Carrie : So I am doing good. Which is very difficult to do. If you sit on a sofa it is nearly impossible I find. So I have been trying to get on the floor a lot with my toddler. The only time that I sit during the day for a long period would be if I am sitting and writing for an hour, but I have been putting on my computer on the kitchen counter. When you stand you are never still … I am wiggling and kind of switching back and forth.


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Homeschool Curriculum 2012/2013: What We’re Doing

As I mentioned in this post on the kid’s summer routine, I’ve spent the last couple of weeks researching and buying curriculum for the 2012/2013 school year.

I knew that when the school year began, I would have a tiny newborn and my brain would be a little addled with interrupted sleep and postpartum hormones, so I decided to make things easier on myself by getting it all done way ahead of time.

We’re doing a few things differently, and I’m really excited about getting back into the swing of things. Two things have changed this year. Well, really 3. One, Sadie is in 1st grade which means she’s doing “real” school now. I know she’ll be happy about this, and mommy is too. She needs to keep busy! Two, Caleb is now a high school student. A little scary for me but exciting too! Three, we’ll have a new baby in the house when school starts. I’m a little nervous about getting everything done, but I know things will work out.

On to the curriculum choices.

I’ve long been a fan of Susan Wise Bauer. We’ve used and really enjoyed her Story of the World for history for a few years now. I’m not sure how her other educational tools slipped from my notice, but I’m glad discovered them. The lineup features several of her books.

Sadie, 1st Grade

Sadie is reading, so I didn’t see the need for a phonics program this year. I’m also not doing a History program with her. That will wait until next year.

Julien and Ilana, 4th and 6th Grades

I teach these two together for all subjects except math.

Caleb, 9th Grade

Caleb is doing really well in all subjects, and is a high level reader for his age. I’m going to have him start working on a reading journal a la The Well Educated Mind.

  • Writing: The Complete Writer: Writing with Skill, Level 1.
  • History/Geography: Story of the World, Volume 3 along with Tests Workbook. (I know that he is ready for the History of the World volumes, Susan Wise Bauer’s series for high schoolers and adults, but I’m weird about finishing things before starting something new!)
  • Foreign Language: Spanish – continuing progress with Rosetta Stone. Caleb is also interested in German and is studying that a little on his own.
  • Music: Piano – continuing his lessons with a private tutor
  • Math: Undecided
  • Literature: I’m so excited that Caleb is starting high school this year! I’m having him begin The Well-Educated Mind and he’ll start a reading journal now. He’s already read some of the classics but now it’s time for the heavier stuff. (I’m reading this book and will be journeying on the same path with him, I’m a little scared!)

Things that are the same as last year: We’ll still be doing daily Bible reading together in the mornings, a habit we’ll keep up in the summer too. Daily fiction read alouds are also a priority. First on the list this year: Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

A few changes from last year: I’m no longer expecting anyone but Caleb to do foreign language studies. (Ilana and Sadie will probably continue with Spanish part time, as they seem to enjoy it a couple of times a week.)

I haven’t found a Science curriculum yet for anyone (I might skip it for the younger ones, any suggestions for my high schooler? I’ll likely sign each of the kids up for a Science class at a local arts center that offers classes for homeschoolers. The kids learn quite a bit of science from their reading so I’m not really concerned about it either way.

For the younger kids, I don’t like math to be consigned just to textbooks. I bought several of Anno’s math books. I love these! I’ve enjoyed reading them to the kids and see them picking them up also. I’ve heard great things about Life of Fred, several of those titles are on the wishlist too.

Also, I’m thrilled to have found a writing curriculum that I like in The Complete Writer series. Julien and Ilana love to write, and do so frequently. I don’t require creative writing from my elementary students, but Ilana writes book reports, letters, journals, compositions, etc on her own. Julien is quite a good journal writer and has filled a few journals in the last couple of years, which is a bit surprising because he isn’t a huge reader. But now that I’ve read The Complete Writer, I understand why this is so: reading and writing and two very different skills!

One concern I’ve had is that Caleb, while being a voracious reader (the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree on that one), says he hates writing. This worried me for two reasons: writing is an essential skill, and it also grieved me to hear him say that because I personally enjoy writing so much. Caleb is a very good speaker, and it would be a shame for him not to be able to transmit his thoughts onto paper. I think the Complete Writer series is going to transform his thinking.

Got any suggestions for 9th grade math and science?

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The Importance of Probiotics in Pregnancy

This is an article written by Dr. Challa, my guest on this week’s podcast. After reading his book, Probiotics for Dummies, I became convinced that I probably was deficient in good bacteria and bought a high quality supplement. While I would normally get my “bugs” by eating probiotic rich foods, I find that some of them are intolerable during pregnancy when my taste buds change and cravings and aversions are strong.

After two weeks of supplementing, I’ve found that I have less belching after eating, and I’m also more regular (and that’s no small benefit!). I wonder if I had supplemented before I became pregnant, if I would have had less struggle with nausea and vomiting? After reading Dr. Challa’s book, I’m thinking that health care providers would do well to recommend a probiotic supplement (as they currently do with folic acid) for women of child bearing age.

Here are a few reasons why probiotics in foods and supplements are so important for pregnant women and their babies.

Source: via Maegan on Pinterest


Pregnancy and Probiotics

Most pregnant women experience food cravings. In addition to these dietary changes, a pregnant woman undergoes alternations in her digestive system. Women may experience heartburn, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, nausea and vomiting. A lot of this may be due to an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the gut. By taking probiotics (good bacteria) during pregnancy, Mom can feel the benefits of a healthier digestive system as her good bacteria are replenished.

How else do Mom and baby benefit from probiotics during pregnancy? Here are a few facts:

Mom is:

  • As much as 18 percent less likely to give birth prematurely.
  • Able to drop the pregnancy weight faster.
  • At a lower risk of developing central obesity (belly fat) — if excess belly fat is retained after birth, Mom is at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease.
  • At a 20 percent lower risk of developing gestational diabetes and diabetes after birth.

Baby also reaps health benefits if Mom takes probiotics while she’s pregnant. Baby is:

  • At a 50 percent reduced risk of developing eczema.
  • Not as likely to develop asthma, childhood obesity or diabetes.
  • At a lower risk of developing a condition called necrotizing enterocolitis (where intestinal tissue begins to die).

After Birth

The risk of developing diseases due to central obesity from pregnancy weight is higher for women who do not take probiotics. While the role of probiotics in weight management is still vague, researchers have found a correlation between the gut flora (types of bacteria found in your gut) and the subsequent weight of a person, whether they are lean or overweight.

A study done in Finland followed 256 pregnant women, beginning in the first trimester through the first year after birth. Researchers found that only 25 percent of women who took probiotics had belly fat, and the group taking probiotics actually had lost the highest amount of body fat since their first trimester. In comparison, 43 percent of women who took a placebo had central fat at the end of the first year.

Happy, Healthy Baby

We’ve all heard, “I want to pinch those chubby cheeks!” While we all love those sweet cheeks, babies who weigh 8 pounds, 13 ounces or more at birth are at a higher risk of being overweight.

Newborns are also at risk of colic — severe pain in the abdomen that causes babies to cry more than three hours a day at least three times a week. Recent studies show the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri (found in breast milk) helps reduce crying spells, inflammation and amounts of bad bacteria.

When deciding between naturally breast fed and using baby formula, mothers don’t always have a choice. Prebiotic-enriched baby formula contains similar gut bacteria to that found in breast-milk-fed infants. Nowadays you can find baby formulas that contain prebiotics, probiotics or a combination of the two (known as synbiotics).

**Please Note: Always consult your physician before adding a supplement — including probiotics — to your diet.

Choosing a probiotic can be difficult with so many options. I recommend the gourmet probiotic Probulin. Use promo code “Challa” on your order to receive 25 percent off at

Dr. Shekhar Challa is a board certified Gastroenterologist, Co-producer of probiotic video game Microwarriors: The Battle Within, and author of the new book Probiotics for

A final thought from Carrie:

Probiotic supplementation is an especially good idea for a baby born via C-section. Babies born vaginally pick up normal flora via the birth canal, so their gut begins to grow good bacteria immediately, which helps create a healthy immune system.

Babies deprived this advantage due to a C-section delivery are more likely to develop asthma and allergies. One study of C-section-delivered children found that 6 month old babies had half the amount of normal gut flora as vaginally delivered babies.

Probiotics are regarded as safe even for infants – as evidenced by the fact that it is now added to infant formula (of course, it’s always been in breastmilk!).  Probiotics are a great idea for a baby (and mom) who have developed thrush, which is more common among C-section babies due to the antibiotics they’re exposed to.

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