Sunday, August 2, 2015

emery's birth story

emery lane freeborn entered the world on May 17, 2015
weighing 9 lbs. 9 oz. and 21 " long

here's her story

My due date was originally June 4.
Being diabetic and such, we knew I would probably need to have baby by 38ish weeks.
Just like we did with Levi, we decided to have Baby 2 be a surprise as well.

My pregnancy was very different this time.
I was sick.
A lot.
And it impacted my blood sugars a lot.
I had several ER visits because of it.
I got to have my first ambulance ride.

Midway through pregnancy, baby began measuring large.
Each ultrasound, the percentile got larger.

Originally, my doctor was on board with trying a VBAC this time, pending that I went into labor on my own.
I didn't have any strong convictions either way, but just decided to take things one day at a time and see how it all played out.

However, Baby began measuring over 90th percentile and we determined a scheduled C Section at 38 weeks would be best.

Her birthday was scheduled for May 22.

She chose otherwise.

This pregnancy, I was huge.
I gained 30 lbs.
Not crazy.

{at 37 +1}

But I was huge.
It hurt to walk.
It hurt to move.
Teaching wore me out.

The weekend of May 16, Mr. Free had been asked to officiate his good friends wedding.
No, Mr. Free isn't a minister, but got his online certificate to perform the ceremony.
We always joked about baby making their grand entrance during the wedding, but I prayed Baby would wait.
And Baby did.
By 5 hours. 

After the wedding a strong storm came through our area.
At 2 am, 5 hours after we got home from the wedding I began to get super crampy.
I began to time them and they were a minute long and 3 minutes apart.
When they continued for an hour, I called my mom to come over and watch Levi so we could get checked out.

The contractions got stronger and harder to talk through.
We got to the hospital and it was crazy.
Completely full.
They said the storm had brought in a lot of women in labor.

They monitored me and said I was definitely in labor, but I wasn't dilated.
Being that I was 37 and a half weeks pregnant, and "technically" not full term yet, they wouldn't take me in for a c section until I was dilating or my water broke.
So I labored.
And labored.

The nurse told me, " you didn't prepare for labor did you?"
Um, no.
That wasn't the plan.
This sumo baby was not coming out that way.
Luckily she gave me some tips and tricks and it helped to relax me.

I labored for a few hours in the triage room until I was finally dilated to a 1.
That was all they needed to justify the c-section.

So around 7:30 am I was prepped and wheeled into the OR.

It was so surreal.
Last time I kept falling asleep and this time I was determined to be awake and enjoy it.
But I was scared.

I'm a huge wimp and it totally hit me that I was going to be cut open awake again.
I cried and said how scared I was and the nurses were awesome at comforting me.

Did I mention that my regular OB was on maternity leave?
And that she was returning from it the next day?
So, I had the Dr on call, whom I was informed had been there the entire stormy weekend and I would be here ELEVENTH c section that weekend.
I asked if she was up for it, and they said "Oh yeah, she got like 2 hours of sleep."
It was then I realized I may die.
Or have surgical equipment left inside my uterus after the surgery.

So, we go in for the surgery and I'm given a spinal which works quickly.
I was kind of bummed that I never got to talk with my doctor about some requests I had for a "gentle cesarean".
However, God was so good and the doctor asked about some of the things I wanted right before the surgery.

I got to have a clear sheet in front of me, instead of the standard blue one so I could see baby be born.
I was so thankful for that.

So, this time the spinal make me very queasy and I dry heave throughout the procedure.
Before I know it, Baby is out and the doctor exclaims, "This one's a two hander!" And lifts her up.
She asks Mr. Free if he'd like to announce the gender. 
"It's a girl!!"

This entire pregnancy I knew she was a girl.
I knew before she was conceived.
Just like I knew Levi was a boy.
God just laid it on my heart.

They hold her up and she is a total chunk.
They take her over to get cleaned up and monitored.
That's when I can tell somethings not quite right.
They call the NICU doctor back in.
Mr. Free is over with Emery as they are assessing her and we lock eyes.
I can tell something was wrong.
I was so scared we may lose her.
They cleaned her up, let me kiss her and quickly whisked her off to the NICU.
I sent Mr. Free to be with her.

I got sown back up and into Recovery.
I felt pretty darn good, just nauseated.
And worried sick.

Mr. Free comes back in and tells me, with tears in his eyes that she is going to be OK.
That it was hard seeing her all hooked up to machines, but she would be fine.

After my hour in Recovery, they wheeled me in my bed to the NICU to see her.
I found out then that she was having difficulty breathing, that she swallowed meconium and that her blood sugar registered at 0 at birth.
That is so crazy scary.

They had her hooked up to glucose, breathing machines, monitors, etc.

She was in the NICU for 6 days.
She went home the day she was scheduled to have been born.
Each day she got stronger.
Each day she fought to get out of there.
She would pull out her tubing and monitors and they would then follow her lead and see how she did without those things.

We had to work on feeding that week but we eventually got the hang of it all.

The entire NICU team was so fantastic.
I can't say that enough.
The neonatologist worked with kept reassuring me that her situation was very normal for babies of diabetic moms.
And not to blame myself.
It is so hard not to, but he just kept reassuring me.
This is how it is, and we treat it and all will be OK.

They did an echo cardiogram and noticed her right side of her heart was enlarged slightly.
The doctor said that is normal with babies of diabetic mamas but that we would follow up in 3 months to see that it returned to normal.

All during this week of NICU time, I began to feel weak and found my blood level dropped to below 6.
This required a blood transfusion.
After 2 pints of blood I felt much much better.

I was discharged 2 days before Emery would be, but luckily they offered us a hospitality room to stay in for those 2 nights so we could remain at the hospital with her.

Levi this whole time stayed with his grandparents.
I missed him like crazy.
I cried each night missing my sweet boy.
Thankfully he was in great hands and enjoyed his little "vacation" with grandma and grandpa.

He would visit the hospital each day.
He got several "big brother" gifts, one including a cape and batman mask.
The child wore them to the hospital.

Everyone loved it.

But all of our first family pictures include Mommy, Daddy, Emery and Batman.
Oh well, it's fitting.

How did we get her name?
Like a billion years ago, Mr. Free and I were driving and saw a street called "Emery Street".
I remarked how that is a cute name.
It stuck ever since.
It was our girl name.

Lane is a combination of my middle name, Louise, and my grandma and his grandma's middle name of Jane.

So Emery has done fantastic since.
Her weight has dropped in percentile considerably.
At 2 months old she was 10 lbs even and 23%.
However, Levi was small.
We just make small kids.
Emery just started off large, thanks to her mama.

I am so thankful to be this sweet girls Mama.
She looks just like her daddy.
She loves to smile.
She adores her big brother.
I pinch myself that God blessed me with a son and daughter and look forward to the many memories we will all make together.


Well, it's been over a year since I've blogged and thought I may get back into it.
So...what's happened since last June?

I finished my 7th year teaching.
I got pregnant.
We took our first family vacation to Chicago.
I had a crazy pregnancy.
Levi turned 3.
I had a precious baby girl.
We spent a week in the NICU.
We are now adjusting to being a family of 4.
We are Dave Ramsey-ing our Grad School debt, to hopefully be debt free (beside our house) within 2 years.

I will try and blog regularly (maybe?) and share some big stories from this past year.
Most importantly Emery's birth story.

Though probably no one reads this but me and my mom, I do love having it as a reference for when my memory begins to fade.

My next post will hopefully be Emery's birth story.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

a beginner's thoughts on EXTREME COUPONING

So, as of this summer, I can call myself an "extreme couponer".
I began clipping coupons and stacking savings about a month ago and the savings has been incredible!
I am obviously still learning, and use so many resources to do my shopping, but thought I'd share a little bit of my process!

Disclaimer: The savings are amazing, but it does take time. I would guess I've been spending approximately 20 hours per week on couponing, clipping, matching deals and shopping.
I'm a shopper. I love to shop. 
And "extreme couponing" has allowed me to continue my "hobby" AND benefit my family.

Disclaimer 2: So far, I've averaged a savings on groceries, household items, toiletries and pet care at 71% off retail. My trips have been anywhere between 60-100% off. You're not going to walk out of a store with free stuff each time. Despite what TLC may lead you to believe: )

So...this first part of Extreme Couponing is completely thinking of how you shop.
Prior to couponing, I would make a list of what we needed for the month (the weekend after pay day), then go to Costco and Aldi to stock up for the month.
Then I would go to Aldi weekly for milk and fruits/veggies.

I thought I was being savvy by always buying store brand and avoiding the regular grocery store.
I was wrong.

Now, I don't shop for specific items of desire, but I shop what's at rock bottom prices.
Then I stock up.
And by stock up, I mean approximately 3 months worth of the item, if coupons and store policies allow.
So when laundry soap is on sale for $1.49...I buy 4 or 5.
Or pasta sauce is $.23, I buy 6 jars.

I then store the items in an organized storage area of our basement. And when it's time to meal plan, I check my stockpile and know that I can prepare that dish for the most cheap price.

Now building that stockpile takes time.
And you only need it as big as you have space and feel comfortable with.
I know people who want a years worth of items.
So if anything were to happen with their jobs, economy, or a natural disaster they would be perfectly fine.
It's completely up to you.

Also...sales come in cycles. Usually about 12 weeks.
So if you can purchase something at it's lowest price, and buy enough to last 3 months, then you can purchase it again when it becomes that cheap again.
Disclaimer 3: If something is FREE I do stock up for longer than 3 months worth. I get as many as my coupons/store policy allows. If we have an abundance, then we give it away.
For example, 2 weeks ago, Target was having AMAZING deals on body wash. I think I got PAID approximately $1.50 to "buy" 18 bottles. We obviously don't need 18 bottles so we've given several away.

There are a lot of different systems when it comes to getting, organizing and carrying coupons.
Here's what's worked for me.
I buy 2-3 papers a week, depending on how good the coupons are
(you can preview them online a few days in advance)
Then on Sunday evening, I get clipping.

I then put them in my coupon binder.
I use the "baseball card sleeve method".
I bought approximately 100 sheets of baseball care sleeves and placed them in a 3" binder.
I then bought tabs and labeled the coupons into categories so I can easily find them.

I always keep my binder with me, even just to go grab something quick. You never know when you will see something on clearance and need that coupon!

Krazy Coupon Lady lists current deals and what coupons to use to get the best prices. She also has a coupon database, where if you are wanting to find a coupon to print online, you can see if there is one and how to get it.
Penny Pinchin Mom is also great and is from Raymore MO. She posts some local Kansas City deals which are fabulous to see!
Instagram has become my number once resource. If you simply search #extremecouponing, savvy shoppers post their deals and the "breakdown" of how to do the same. I simply see people's deals that interest me and copy them!
Favado app for iphone is also amazing! You select the stores you shop at and it will list the best deals of the week and how to get them!

So each day, I usually check instagram and krazy coupon lady and see if there are any deals I can't pass up. Then make my list of where and what I'd like to do.

The BEST stores for extreme couponing is Target, CVS and Walgreens.
Target offers AMAZING savings in multiple ways, and in the last several weeks have gotten TONS of stuff for FREE!!!
Target deals can be a bit complex. It usually involves a manufacturer's coupon, stacked with a coupon, stacked with a store deal (like a $5 gift card when you buy 3 or $10 off your purchase of $40 or more) and the Cartwheel app which can add on additional savings.

CVS and Walgreens required membership to their saving programs. You can sign up in store or online.
By using the membership, you get the lowest prices. And also, many items on sale will qualify for either "Extracare bucks" or "Register Rewards" which is "money" that can be used toward your next trip. This is what makes for some free deals!!

So Extreme Couponing isn't super easy. It takes time, effort, organization and a lot of math.
But, it has been a blessing for our family and others.
I've been able to get such amazing deals, we are comfortable in many areas of things we need for our family AND have had excess to share. We've never been able to do that before.
And that is one my favorite parts.

With stacking deals you often will wind up with gift cards and extra bucks and such.
There are a few different things people do with those to maximize savings.
Some people simply use those for the next "deal". This greatly reduces any out-of-pocket and keeps "rolling" the freebies.
Other's save them and use them for Christmas/birthday/wedding gifts.
(please note: some do have expiration dates, so you have to watch for that)
Here's what I do: I save some to roll into the next week's deals, to reduce out-of-pocket expense and I save some to use on necessities that don't necessarily have coupons regularly.
For example, I usually make sure I have $4 extra care bucks each week so I can get "free milk", or I will use Target Gift cards from deals to buy meat or fruits and veggies.
Again, no right or wrong, just what's worked for us.

If you have any questions, feel free to email or comment. This is a very quick little overview and is no way comprehensive at all. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

beginners price matching

This week I decided to dabble in the world of couponing & price matching.
I've had a good friend begin this venture and save a TON.
I figured it was worth a shot!
I love shopping AND saving money!

Note: I normally grocery shop primarily at Aldi & Costco, so never really paid attention to weekly circulars and coupons.

So here's how it began.
My friend gave me some ads from last weeks paper and I clipped away.
I then sorted them by category into an accordion file.
I also then wrote down in a little notebook each coupon I had, so that I could easily reference it.

Today, the weekly grocery ads came and I scoured to see if 1) there was anything we really use/needed and 2) any stellar deals.

Most were snooze-worthy for the Free household, except for the Price Chopper celebration ad.
It contained several things we constantly use at cheap cheap prices.

So this evening, I ventured off (alone!) to Target to scour the clearance, coupons in hand and to try price-matching for the first time.
I was a bit nervous!

So here was my set-up as I made my rounds:

Before I even stepped into the store, I checked Target's Price Match policy and coupon policy.
I then went around the store and only found deals worth purchasing we price-matching the Price Chopper ad.
My hope was to price match, plus manufacturers coupon, plus 5% off.
Reg. price $2.50, ad price $1.48 (limit 2)
Jif peanut butter and Smuckers grape jelly

Reg. price $1.59 ad price $.59 (limit 3)

reg. price $1.99 ad price $.89 (limit 4)

reg. price $2.99 ad price 2 for $3, plus manufacturers coupon for $1 off 2

reg. price $2.50 ad price $1.48 (limit 3)

So after grabbing my deals, I nervously headed to Customer Service, where you have to ring up to price match (annoying.)
As soon as I strolled up, they stopped me.
"We don't price match Price Chopper".
I asked why?
They said because it uses a loyalty card for their specials.
I told them the Target site said they would only not honor paid loyalty programs.
Price Chopper's is free.
They called in the manager.
The manager said the same thing.
But couldn't find it in their written policy.
Then said, they couldn't honor it because it was a limited time special
(aren't all ads limited specials?)
He did point out something to that effect in their written statement.
I told them I'd love to support them, but if they wouldn't honor it, I'd go to WalMart.
They said they wouldn't.
I left.

People, this is like the only time I've left Target sad.
Like, ever.

So I put my big-girl panties on, got in my car and drove to Wal-Mart.
I really don't like Wal-Mart.
There is one like 1 minute from my house, but it annoys me like no other.
The store is fine, but the lines....
OH the lines.
They are long, and annoying and take forever.

BUT I was determined to get my deals.

  Same set-up.
I quickly went through the store, snagging the same products and went to the check out, ad and coupons in hand.
(Score one for can check out at a regular register).
I again, nervously showed the ad to the cashier and she quickly and nicely matched all the prices.
Not a single hiccup.
So, $18 later, I loaded my car.


Here's what I learned:
*I will no longer attempt to Price Match at Target. Too much hassle and waste of time.
I will however keep scouring their own ads for deals that stack well with manufacturers coupons and their Cartwheel app.
* If I see an ad special that I'd like, I will immediately go to Walmart. Save time.
* Having a price book, with written list of coupons I had helped SO much. It really helped me streamline my shopping.

So, couponers and price matchers.
Share your best tips, secrets & deals! I'm a newbie and would love to learn more!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

summer toddler routine + free printables


The last day of school is a month away!
The Free household is very excited about this.

As the school year is wrapping up, and having an energetic 2 year old, I've begun thinking of fun plans for our family this summer.

One important thing, though I'm admittedly not the best at it, is keeping a routine.
Here is what we are striving for:

We have zoo passes, which we want to utilize.

Our PTA is also selling movie passes for our local theater for kid movies each week.
It comes out to $1 per person per movie.
We haven't taken Levi to the theater before, but I am wayyyy excited to try this.
He loves movies and I think he will just love the big screen.
Plus it'll be theater full of kids, which will help mama not worry about a wiggly toddler.

We also have great public libraries with a summer reading program where they can earn free books.
One of the local libraries has a children's area AND a coffee shop.
We've planned to make that a regular stop this summer with some friends.

Kansas City has great activities for kids.
I've kept Friday as time for special outings. 
(Saturday can be this as well)

This could be going to a local park, swimming at Grandma and Grandpa's pool or something from our "Summer Special Activities" list

I am so excited to spend some fun family time.
I am the type though that has to be careful not to try and do it all.
I love being out and about, but know Levi needs down time at home as well.

Here are some free printables you can customize for your own summer plans!
You can print them and write them in, or right-click and save and then edit it in picmonkey and add your text and print off!

Mamas and Kansas City peeps, any things you add or any tips for a memorable summer?
Please share!

Friday, April 25, 2014

When God has placed you in the "not so nice" part of town

Our family lives in small, humble home.
It boasts about 1400 sq. feet (including our finished basement)
It has 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a 1 car garage.
It is shaped like a shoebox.

And He said to them, "Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions." Luke 12:15

In comparison to many of our family and friends, we live in a very "reduced" state.
(What do they expect...we are both teachers! And I teach part time!)
Not only is our home on the humble is our town.
Our town is not very desirable.
In fact, most people would love to avoid it all together.

There is crime.
There are rougher schools.
Some do not take care of their home and yard.
(For example, our neighbors asked if they could have a piece of plywood. We happily gave it to them, in which they took it and propped it up against their house with an old couch to "finish off" their "fence")

But you know what?
This is where God has placed us.

Our home really fell into our laps.
It was my grandparents and when they needed assisted living, we were getting married and it worked perfectly.
It was affordable and just what we needed.
And God knew that.

We have worked to make our little home work for us.
Like adding a family room and 2nd bathroom.
We've tried to make it a little haven for our family and guests.
A place to serve others.

 God has placed us here for a reason.
Our neighbors need the gospel.
They need to be loved.
They need to be cared for.
Living in a more "affluent" area does not save us from anything.
Yes, the yards and homes may be more beautiful, but the people are just as broken.
It just may not be as visible.

So friend, if you are living in a less-than-desired area, but encouraged.
God has you there for a reason.

 Whether it is a financially wise decision for your family, or a mission-field ready for harvest, where He is going to use you or your family.
Take comfort in knowing He has placed you there.
You are on a mission everywhere you go, and your neighborhood is a mission field you encounter daily.

And on the days where I find myself perusing the real estate ads and drooling over master bathrooms and kitchens that can fit more than one person, I remind myself that I am exactly where I am meant to be for this season.

Let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, "I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you," Hebrews 13:5

It's not to say we won't move.
God can use us wherever He needs.
But don't let jealousy and discontentment steal the joy and purpose of being exactly where you are in the here and now.

"Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous works among all people." 1 Chronicles 16:24

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

keep em busy basket

I am loving toddlerhood, but it is kicking my butt.

I'm grateful to sleep through the night, but once we are up, it is full on energy. Everywhere I turn there is a new mess to clean up, Levi is climbing somewhere he shouldn't and I'm attempting to get regular clothes on or heaven forbid, take a shower.
One particularly stressful time of day is dinner prep time. Levi usually wants to help, which is awesome, but sometimes our tiny kitchen just doesn't accommodate. There are nights I simply need to get in there and whip dinner out ASAP. Any mamas relate?

Anyways, I decided to make a basket of special activities just for during that time. Here's what's currently in our basket:

We have color wonder paper & markers (can I get an AMEN on how awesome these are?! Levi's been experimenting in "graffiti" and with these there isn't a problem!)
Also stickers & a dishwasher basket hat we use to stuff Pom poms into for fine motor practice.
The basket is placed in our dining room next to his high chair so he can easily grab it.
I plan to rotate different items regularly to keep things interesting and keep his attention. This idea is also great for other hectic times, like attempting to get ready in the morning or if you are tending to another child. 
Ok mamas, what other awesome ideas do you have to keep little ones occupied when your attention is needed elsewhere?

Monday, April 21, 2014

diy sunburn relief spray {using essential oils}

So this past weekend was GORGEOUS in Kansas City.
And luckily there were lots of wonderful events to do outside.
However, this usually means one thing for a redhead like me.

We went to a Kite Festival, where hundreds of kites were flying.
It was so much fun and beautiful weather.
I loved being barefoot in the grass, flying a kite. 
Can't get much better than that.

I put on sunscreen like crazy.
I missed a spot.
On the back of my left arm.

And boy did it get red.

So this weekend I applied my usual aloe vera to it, but then decided to experiment with some other ingredients and came up with this wonderful Sunburn Relief Spray.
It's fantastic!
It soothes, heals and cools!

It has 4 ingredients:
aloe vera
Aloe Vera helps with sunburn through its powerful healing activity at the epithelial level of the skin, a layer of cells that cover the body. It acts as a protective layer on the skin and helps replenish its moisture. Because of its nutritional qualities and antioxidant properties, the skin heals quicker.
witch hazel
Healing damaged skin is one of witch hazel's specialties. But as sunburn is also a type of skin inflammation, witch hazel is ideal for treating this too (despite swelling not being obvious). Treating sunburn with witch hazel will lessen healing time and prevent the infamous skin peeling and flaking.
lavender oil
Did you know that Lavender has tissue regeneration and healing properties that quickly relieve sunburn? Yes, lavender also reduces scarring and minimizes pain associated with sunburn!
peppermint oil
Peppermint oil has incredibly cooling properties to it. When the heat of a fresh sunburn is bothering you, the peppermint oil will help cool the skin down and bring relief.

This concoction worked wonderfully for me. It helped me sleep with minimal stinging and heat. The next morning it was noticably lighter in color and not nearly as painful.

And it was fantastic because I already had all these ingredients at home! I now leave it in our medicine cabinet ready in case of another burn.

Let me know if you try it or have another sunburn relief to share!