6 tips for using a breast pump – and a giveaway!!

When I landed in the NICU with a premature baby, I had barely used a breast pump before. It was a bit intimidating, really. But after awhile, I figured out a few things that helped, which I thought I would share with you.Mother with baby

Get a high-quality pump. Trust me, when you are pumping every few hours, you want a breast pump that does the job as efficiently as possible! I spent a lot of time researching breast pump brands, figuring out which was the best. I feel the comfort and efficiency of a quality pump is worth the cost. Check out Diapers .com for some really good options. Be sure to enter the giveaway for a chance to win a great prize from them!

Slow down and take your time. So much talk of pumping is about schedules and time frames, etc, but if it is your first time using a breast pump, just slow down and take your time. Learn the machine, learn what settings work best for you. Don’t try to crank up the speed and get it done as fast as possible – that could cause soreness and believe me, that’s not worth it! Go at a speed that you are comfortable with.

Remember why you are doing this. There will be days and times it will be so inconvenient. Maybe you are sore. You will feel like quitting. Stop and think about your reason for pumping. You want your precious baby to have the best start possible, and we all know that breast milk is ideal for babies ! It is worth some trouble now, for their sakes, right? So keep going, mama, your baby needs you!

Get Comfortable.  If you are at home, find your comfy chair, or corner of the couch. Put a few books or magazines nearby. Maybe the charging cord for your phone!
I spent most of my time pumping in the NICU,and I had access to a pumping room. Mine had private sections with comfy chairs and magazines. If you are using a breast pump at work, find a private, comfortable spot, if at all possible. I found that relaxing was key in having a good pumping session.

Drink plenty of water! The hospital gives you a large water cup when you have a baby, and I recommend keeping that jug filled! Take it with you everywhere you go.  And if water isn’t your thing – drink juice or tea, whatever. Drinking plenty of fluid helps more with milk supply than anything else. Here’s some more tips on drinking enough. Eat good food, too. That is so important. You are feeding small human, remember? 😀

Get enough rest. I know how tempting it is to try to get a lot of work done when the baby is sleeping,  but the fact is, you are not helping anyone by getting so worn out that you can’t even function properly. You need rest to stay healthy to produce good milk. So get as much sleep as possible.  Don’t try to be superwoman. Take care of your baby’s mama!

Remember that your baby is worth every effort! Give it the best start possible with your milk. :)giveaway, breast pump brands

GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED! Congratulations, Kim!

And hey! I am holding a giveaway for a $50.00 gift card, that will be great for you as a new mom!   Diaper .com has so many fun options for using your prize, I am so happy to be offering this to you guys. If you don’t have any babies currently, maybe you have a friend who would enjoy this prize! Winner will be announced towards the end of next week.

Giveaway rules: 

1.Leave a comment below with your favorite thing about newborn babies!

2.For additional entries, share this post on Facebook, Pinterest, or other social media. Come back to leave a comment and let me know where you shared. Each social media platform that you share it on, counts as an extra entry! So go wild! 😀

Classy baby, breast pump brands

This giveaway is a partnership with Nakturnal, with a prize of a gift certificate.

Congratulations to our giveaway winner; Kim! 

My Journey of Faith, part 1.

 

My Journey Of Faith Part 1

Even children are known by the way they act,
whether their conduct is pure, and whether it is right.
Proverbs 20:11


It all started when I was a child of nine. I grew up in a Christian family, we went to Wednesday evening prayer meetings, revival meetings, and to church twice on Sunday. I was told Bible stories from the time I was a small child on my mother’s lap. But when I was about nine, I heard a preacher talk about salvation. Now, I knew what salvation meant: Jesus died on the cross to save us from sin, and if we confess our sin, He would forgive us. Then we go to Heaven when we die. That was the Gospel I knew. So after hearing this preacher tell us how the ‘grass looks greener, and the sky looks bluer” after you get saved, well! I was up for that! Besides, I was old enough to start feeling a twinge of guilt and worry about the eternal destination of my soul.

So when I got home, I prayed a simple prayer. I asked God to forgive my sin and save me. I was a bit fuzzy on the details, but that was the best I knew how. Sadly, I didn’t have a good enough relationship with my parents to go talk to them about it. In hindsight, they would have loved it if I had. But I was pretty intimidated by them, and so I handled it the only way I knew.

I wrote them a note.

A note! And stuck it on the mirror where mom would be sure to see it. If I remember correctly, It said “I am trying to be a Christian.

Mom came to me, note in hand, and asked what I meant by that? I thought it was pretty clear, but I said, somewhat defensively; “Just what it says! I am trying to be a Christian!”

“OK,” Mom said. “But you can’t just ‘try’ to be a Christian, either you are or you aren’t.”

” I am.” I said flatly. I was embarrassed, unsure of myself, and desperately wanting to save face. (Oh, how quickly that religious front presents itself!)

Mom didn’t make much about it. She just started making plans with the local church seamstress to have me fitted with a prayer head-covering. (We were part of a Mennonite church, and when a girl was saved, she started wearing a head-covering immediately. It was a special cap that was hard to sew, and usually there was a seamstress or two in each church, who made them for all the ladies for a small fee.)

I was so happy. As soon as I put on a head-covering, I was accepted with gladness into the circle of saved girls. But, I was only happy because I was accepted as part of the ‘good‘ group of girls. My inner life was no different. I was no kinder, no more obedient to my parents. But because I had publicly committed, I tried very hard to control my actions. I failed – miserably. Again and again. And to my great dissapointment, the grass and sky looked exactly the same as before. I felt betrayed. Maybe I didn’t do it right?

So, I tried again. Several months later, I prayed:
“God, please save me! That last time wasn’t really right – but I really mean it this time!”
And a few weeks later, when it was obvious that my self-control was no better, I would pray again: “THIS time I am serious, forget the other times, God, THIS time I really mean it! I want to serve you!”

Oh the agony of always feeling guilty, but not knowing how to get relief! You may chuckle, and it is kind of funny now, but at the time, I was completely serious. Even at age 9 and 10, a child can feel so burdened by the knowledge of their sinfulness, that they cannot rest.

After about a year of this, I was at another revival meeting. This time it was at a small country church in the snowy mountains of northern Idaho. This preacher explained salvation in such a clear way, that I finally was able to understand it completely. I went home and poured out my heart to my Father, and for the first time, felt like I was heard. I had peace. I knew I was a child of God.

I was almost 11.

My struggle with sin was not over though.

Come back next week to read more! :)

January Snowstorm

snow covered log barn

“A snowflake is one of God’s most fragile creations,

but look what they can do when they stick together!”

The snow started last night and kept right on falling all through today. It is still snowing, even though night has fallen and all the children are tucked in bed. I think we have over a foot of snow, not counting the drifts. Of course, there were drifts and several inches already here – but now the lowest spots are still over a foot deep! drifted snow

Today I spent 6 hours decluttering, sorting, and organizing my house. When I was finished, I bundled up and went outside with my camera. It was my reward for a hard job well-done. I walked down past the barns and corrals, down to the horse pasture. I walked through the ditch, and the snow was up to my waist! I snapped some photos of the horses for my online gallery. It was fun to get some fresh air and some good pictures. I really enjoy  taking time to indulge my creative side! :) paint horse in snow

horse muzzle

I opened my online gallery this week, and to celebrate, I am offering 15% off when you use the code WELCOME. The sale only goes till January 7, though, so hurry over and check it out!

You can buy prints or ready-to-hang wall art, like canvases. Or you can buy digital downloads that you may print yourself.
Check it out here—>  ~Kay Schrock Photography~

red barn door in snow

While these storms rage – for there have been several – my husband feeds the cows and works in the shop. But me and the children, we stay warm and cozy beside the fire inside our little house. When the children are finished with their schoolwork, they get out books to read and games to play. Sometimes they play Chess or Candyland. Sometimes they draw pictures or write stories. Sometimes they watch Netflix shows like “CHOPPED” or “Dick Van Dyke”. We drink hot tea and eat thick slices of homemade bread, slathered in butter and crabapple jelly. It is all quite cozy and satisfactory.

Hot coals in a wood stove

A good bed of coals in our stove.

Horse herd in snow

I hope wherever you live, wherever you call home, is as cozy and sweet as it can be. May your winter be warmer than ours, but if not, may your stove be warm and your hearts full of love.

horses in snow

“So all night long the storm roared on:
The morning broke without a sun;
In tiny spherule traced with lines
Of Nature’s geometric signs,
In starry flake, and pellicle,
All day the hoary meteor fell;
And, when the second morning shone,
We looked upon a world unknown,
On nothing we could call our own.
Around the glistening wonder bent
The blue walls of the firmament,
No cloud above, no earth below,—
A universe of sky and snow!”
― John Greenleaf Whittier

Feeding the cows and Peace on earth.

Red Angus

A few days ago, I rode with my man while he finished feeding the cows. He loads round bales onto the bale-buster, then drives out to the pasture and spreads it out so the cows can eat it. It was a cold day – single digits. And there was a strong wind. I’d guess 30-40 mph with much higher gusts on the high areas. That heated tractor cab is wonderful! :)

tractor feeding hay

The bale-buster is a contraption that holds a round bale, then iron teeth on the bottom rotate, digging into the bale, and the hay spits out an opening in the bottom. When the bale is gone, Cliff raises the arms that are holding the extra bale, and it flips up and drops into the bale-buster. It throws a lot of dust when it is chomping up a hay bale, and the wind blew it over everything.

Cows eating hay

tractoraspens in snow

After we fed the cows, we took a bale to the horses. A soft evening light was settling over the landscape, making me forget my cold fingers. I snapped a few more pictures, between opening gates for my man.

By the way – ranch wives joke about having to open gates for their men, but truly? I don’t mind. Any time spent together is great! :)

paint horse and ponieshorses

Now it is nearly Christmas. The wind is howling outside as I type, there’s a fresh couple inches of snow on the ground. The gifts are wrapped and the cookies are made. Strains of holiday music fill the air.

It is not picture perfect, because we are a real family, we traipse snow in on our boots and the hearth around the wood stove is perpetually ash-sprinkled and messy. There are toys and cups sitting around my living room, because I was too tired to pick them up last night.

But the love of Jesus is here. Our love of each other grows stronger and purer each year. Our love for God is increasing, and we are working on our “peace on earth, goodwill to men”.

Dear ranch mama, don’t be discouraged if your house is not as holiday-ready as your neighbor’s. Don’t allow Satan to steal YOUR peace, this week. Reduce expectations, keep it simple, and love on your family. Take a few minutes here and there to slip away and pray. Of course you can pray ‘mentally’, but there is something about locking the bedroom door for two minutes and taking your attitude and trials to God in prayer. :)

running horses

May your home honor God and bless others this season. Starting with your own family.

 

What I’m reading right now.

For the past several years, I have had precious little time to read; between foster babies and normal mom stuff. But lately, I have committed to reading more books – not just magazines and blog posts. It is hard for me to find time to sit down and read a whole book. So much easier to pick up my phone and read a blog, or pick up a how-to book from my coffee table, and flip through it. But I am getting back into writing, and to be good at writing, you need to read, and read lots! So today, I thought I would share with you what books I am reading right now.

I read one of Miller’s other books several years ago and enjoyed it immensely, so when I saw his name on this book, I snagged it used from Amazon. It is even better than the first one I read! I am only halfway through it, but it’s great!

This book is starting out great! I love historical fiction, especially Biblical fiction. But it has to be done right, you know? Not cheesy. The Thoene’s always deliver! They are amazing authors, and I love everything they write. This book has me hooked, and I’m sure I will be buying the rest of the series!

This one I started over a year ago! (gasp) But I was so busy caring for my foster baby, homeschooling, and being a mom, that I never finished it. But I want to finish it soon!

So there is what I am reading! Yes, I have that weird habit of reading several books at once! But I do finish them, eventually. :) It is perfect reading weather right now – snowing and blowing outside, and a cozy fire inside. I am working on some Christmas cinch orders, too. It’s the time of year for indoor projects.

Snowsnowsnow cabin I hope your holiday season is blessed and happy. Try to sneak some reading in! :) And stay warm.

Here’s a little about me…

Hey friends! I have been getting some requests from my followers to share more of my personal life. So I made a couple short videos to help you get to know me better. :)

Here’s a short introductory video:

 

And here is a Q & A video, answering some questions that my Instagram followers asked. Please feel free to shoot me a message and ask any question you like! I love all comments and emails! :)

 

NOTE: The lens I use are the Canon 70-300mm, 50 mm, and 18-55mm.


Also – why did I say ‘post office town‘??!! I can’t talk on camera, apparently. Whatever.

 

 

One simple way to increase your faith.

For in it is revealed God’s righteousness from faith to faith. As it is written, “But the righteous shall live by faith.” Romans 1:17

increase-faith

Do you ever struggle to increase in faith? Does it seem that you just can’t get your eyes off the issue at hand, and truly have faith in God? Faith that He loves you, faith that He plans for you in love, faith that he is who he says he is.

There is one simple way to increase your faith.
Reading God’s Word. So simple, right? Yet such a struggle for most of us. My husband recently said: “The fact that it’s such a struggle to take time to read the Bible, shows how important it must be.”
Yes! If it were not important, Satan woudn’t care if we read it all day long! But the fact is; it IS important, so Satan makes sure we are too busy, get sidetracked, or just plain forget. I know, because I have been there myself. But, don’t be discouraged – rather, make it your ambition to begin reading the Bible regularly.

So faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17

Reading the Bible reminds me of God’s sovereignty. I see how God protected his children through thousands of years. I see his righteous judgement on evil, and his reward on the righteous.  I see the magnificent plan that began in Creation, and continues to this day. I see my place in the scheme of things, and how much God loves me, to send his Son to die for me. It reminds me of all the ways that God is perfectly loving and perfectly holy. That increases my faith in him!

One way to read more, is to have an easy place to look up verses when you are online. BibleVerses.com is a good resource. You can click on various topics, such as friendship, worry, hope, marriage, forgiveness. They also have short blog posts that are encouraging, if you just want a quick devotional.

Here are some more verses on faith: Faith

Fall Works and Fellowship.

fall-worksThe past few weeks have been busy with shipping calves and preg-testing the cows. We were blessed with warm, lovely weather. November is not normally this beautiful in Wyoming, so we are thankful for every sunny, warm day!

I cooked for the crew when they were working here, then went over to the boss’ place and helped with lunch when the crew was over there. Well, the boss’ wife did most of the cooking – I mostly just talked. 😀 It’s good to get together with other ranch wives, though.

shipping

shipping

shipping

This week we drove to our neighbors’ Bible study on Wednesday evening. Everyone brought a pot of soup or a salad, and we shared God’s Word over home-cooked food.

There is something special about fellowshipping over food. Sharing stories and doing life together. Laughing and eating and praying together. We read of Jesus often sharing stories and teaching around meals. He knew that eating together is a great way to be informal and relaxed.

We don’t sit down to eat with our enemies. We eat with our friends. We relax and start to open up to each other when we are seated around a table. We love Thanksgiving and Easter and Christmas in part because of the warm friendship and family times we have around good food.

shipping

shippingshipping

We drove over to our friends’ house and brought food, but they had to be willing to open their home, so we could all join in. Someone had to send that invite, make the calls, prepare food, sweep the floor, tidy the bathroom, you know — get ready for guests. No, it wasn’t fancy, (thank goodness!) it was a homey and inviting place, there was a stack of paper plates and a table loaded with help-yourself food, but the fellowship was heart-warmng. There was no stiffness or awkwardness, just simple food and warm smiles and genuine hospitality.

shipping

But someone had to open their home. We wait and wait for someone else to invite us, to organize something, to fill that need in our lives. We need to open our homes. To stop waiting for someone else to initiate and just be a friend. Invite someone over for lunch. Don’t worry if you aren’t a ‘hostess type’. Just do it. Everyone needs friends and fellowship, someone to do life with. Someone to listen and understand and say: “me too”.  Just text a few friends and say “hey, want to come over tomorrow night for tacos?” Don’t stress over ‘hostessing’, just invite friends into  your life. Open up your heart and your home, and be real.

What would happen if we all started reaching out on a regular basis? It doesn’t have to be a bible study – it can be supper. Or lunch. Or tea. Whatever you do – do that. Stop waiting on the others, and start being a blessing to those in your area.

shipping

Change – how to start the process.

Change - how to start the process. photo: a path in the woodsDo you ever feel like you can’t change? You have tried so often and still go nowhere? Do you ever wish for a magic button to push that would make you more organized, self-disciplined, or just plain motivated?  I know I have. I recently learned a scientific boost for those of us trying to make a change in our habits.

Here’s the secret: You have to make a long-term commitment. Studies prove that those who make a long-term commitment to a goal or project, are more likely to follow through.

“An Australian music psychologist called Gary McPherson arranged to speak to children who were about to have their first music lesson, and he asked them, “How long do you think you will play your new instrument?
“McPherson categorized the children’s answers as indicating either short-term, medium-term or long-term commitment. Then he checked and recorded how long each child spent practicing each week, and also categorized them as low, medium or high practice.
“Finally, each child took a standardized performance test using the instrument they’d been learning. When McPherson charted his two categories against the performance test results, he was amazed at the clear pattern that emerged…
“…the students who made a long-term commitment right from the start performed better, even if they practiced less! Meanwhile, those who only envisioned a short commitment to their instrument performed less well, even if they practiced plenty.
“So if you’re looking for the secret to success, it isn’t 10,000 hours of practice – it’s one long-term commitment.
“And you can make a long-term commitment to yourself *today* to realise your dreams and ambitions. :-)
“Just imagine the future results that will start to come from make that small decision right now…”    – Danny Iny, Mirasee.com 

I think of New Year’s resolutions — so many fall by the wayside in a matter of days or weeks. So obviously the goals have to be realistic. My personal method is to start with ONE thing. Right now my one thing is to get in the habit of working out. I like how I feel when I workout, and I am pretty sure I will like the results after several months. So I am sticking to that one thing.

Next, I want to set some realistic but long-term goals with my writing business. Then I will move on to organizing/housekeeping. I have many areas in my life that need improvement, but I am focusing on one at a time. All my life so far, has been random big resolutions that fell flat in a few days. This time I am being realistic with my schedule and my time and my weaknesses.

How to get to that place where you are so ready to change that you actually do the work? I can’t do that for you. No one can. But I can tell you something — if you start forcing yourself to be disciplined in one area,  I can assure you that you will start being disciplined in other areas. It just works that way!

I declare – this is about as weird a post as I have ever written! I mean, I am not very disciplined!! Just ask my husband. 😀 But the fact is, I recently started changing. One thing at a time. One baby step towards the things I want.

I hope you can be encouraged to realistically consider what you are wanting to accomplish, and see what steps you can take to get there. Pray. Ask your wise friends. Then make a commitment.

What are you committing to, today?

The Great Battle Against Self.

the great battle against self

Hey mom-friends, I have some real-talk today. I want to say it real slow, so you don’t miss any of it. Lean in and listen, ok? It’s important. It has to do with your perception of me. You might look at my online life and say ‘wow! she takes pictures, has a blog, cooks, home-schools, etc. She must be so talented!‘ I’ve heard that before. And it makes me smile because it’s nice to get compliments. I enjoy cooking, photography, homemaking stuff, and all that.  But inside I cringe. Because I am not perfect. I struggle daily with my old enemy: SELF.

I want to be kind; self wants to lash out.
I want to be hospitable; self wants to lock the door.
I want to be loving; self wants to ignore.
I want to be forgiving; self wants to relive the pain.
I want to be cheerful; self wants to be gloomy.
I want to be a prayer warrior; self wants to hit snooze.

The great battle of this Christian life is not physical, but spiritual. My spirit, warring with my Self. War is not fun. It is ugly and there are casualties. Often, I am left bleeding and wounded after a battle. I lay there minute, gasping for air, getting my breath back, so I can crawl to my feet again and face another round. It’s not easy, this fighting and struggling. It’s hard.

The one thing that makes it easier?
Don’t feed the enemy. Self gets weaker if you never feed her! Don’t allow self to feed on
vengeful thoughts,
gloomy thoughts,
resentful thoughts,
lazy thoughts.

You know that saying: “You can’t keep a bird from flying over your head, but you can keep it from building a nest in your hair“?

It’s the same way with sinful or self-pleasing thoughts. They may pop into your head, but you – and you alone – can choose to kick them out. Yes, they will pop into your head multiple times per day. Maybe several times an hour. Maybe you have to literally get up and do something else to get your mind re-routed and stop the thoughts. But stop them! Don’t be distressed because you keep having sinful thoughts; be distressed because you keep allowing them to stay. As long as you are fighting, you are alive, spiritually.

Of course, the staying power in the Christian life is the Holy Spirit, living in us. By His power alone can we overcome sin. Ask Him to fill you. Ask Him to empower you. Don’t settle for a common life. Reach for the Overcoming Life where you live in victory over sin. Don’t think that it can’t be done — just because you haven’t done it, and you don’t know anyone who has.

I have never climbed Mt. Everest and I can say with some assurance that I never will. 😉 I don’t even personally know anyone who has climbed it! But I believe it can be done. I believe even I could,  if I had a desire to, and trained myself. It would be foolishness to say that it can’t be done, just because neither I nor my friends have accomplished it.The Great Battle against self, and scaling mountains

The same goes for overcoming sin. Not all at once, not all in one day. But one stronghold after another – just like the Israelites laid waste to the giants and strongholds in the  Promised Land. The power comes from the Holy Spirit. The weapon is the Sword of the Spirit. (The Bible, God’s Word) Your protection is the armor of God: “having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,  and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:14-17

We are weak because we indulge our flesh — we give in to our earthly desires and passions. We need to get serious about overcoming sin, about dying to self – then we will grow. God wants us to grow and overcome, much more than we ourselves want it! Have faith. Believe that He is ready to help, willing to help, and eager to empower us!