Money Saving Tips

Couponing at Target

How’s this couponing thing sinking in for ya’ll so far? Good hopefully! I know it seems like a lot but I promise that once you get the hang of it it will be easy peasy, even for several different stores. Trust me when I first wanted to learn how to do this I was so overwhelmed and had no idea where to start, now that I’ve pretty much got it figured out I have no idea why I stressed so much.

On to one of my favorite stores, Target! Who else loves Target as much as me?! Everybody? I thought so ūüôā Not only do they have¬†super cute clothes and home decor stuff but it is a goldmine for saving money!

Target Apps

Target has 2 different apps that are very useful when it comes to couponing. First there’s Cartwheel. Basically you select offers on the app and redeem at the register. Mostly its percentage off certain items, but there are sometimes coupons on there as well. These are generally manufacturer coupons, it will say on it whether it is or not, and they are single use. Once you have selected the offer then when you go to checkout you’ll scan the barcode found on the app and it will take off any matching offers (always Cartwheel scan first before any other coupons). It does have a limited amount of spots to select offers but there are way of unlocking more spots, like saving a certain amount of money etc. All this is found in the app.

There is also the regular Target app. This one is not totally necessary but I find it super helpful. It will show you the price of items, where they are located in your store, and if they are in stock or on sale. (Note: This is not 100% accurate, the item you are looking for might be out of stock even if it says in stock on the app. Always check with an associate just in case). It will also show you if there are any promotions related to that items. Ex. Buy 3 get $5 gift card, or 10% savings on Cartwheel.

On both apps there is an option to scan the barcode of the item in store and it will show you price and any available promotions.

Target is great for couponing in that they allow you to stack Target coupons, with manufacturer coupons, and with Cartwheel offers. What?!

A couple of things to note about Target’s coupon policy:

  1. They only allow 4 like coupons per transaction. So, for example, you could only use four $2 off Tide Pods coupons. You could use a whole stack of coupons in a transaction, but you could only use 4 of each. This is a system requirement, it has nothing to do with cashier preference.
    1. Also, if you happen to be using a MFC (manufacturer coupon) from the Cartwheel (CW) app, this counts towards your 4 coupon limit. Ex. One $3 Huggies coupon on CW and three $3 Huggies paper coupons
    2. If you want you can do multiple transactions as allowed.
  2. You can use coupons on clearance!
  3. Target does not give overage, if the coupon is more than what the item costs, the coupon will reduce to the amount of the item.

Now for a deal breakdown example.

Buy 4 Axe deodorant at 3.99 each, receive $5 gift card.

  • Use four $1.50 off Axe deo coupons,
  • Pay $10.78 (with tax) out of pocket
  • Receive $5 gift card.
  • Like paying $5.78 or $1.45 each!

Remember you can roll gift cards at Target. So if you already have a gift card, you can use it to pay for a coupon transaction that will result in another gift card.¬†Note: It is a good idea to¬†combine your¬†gift cards together if you end up with more than one so you don’t lose one or forget about it.¬†You can do this at the register or at customer service.¬†

Registry Coupons

When you create a registry at Target they will send you a 15% off coupon on your remaining items on your registry. I am pretty sure this applies to both baby registry and wedding registries. You can use this coupon together with other promotions for even more savings. I always encourage friends to register for every size of diaper and different size packages. That way you can use the coupon on a diaper deal. You can do this online instead of standing in the store scanning each type of package. Up to you which you prefer. 

  • Your registry gift bag usually has pretty good coupons in it as well as samples. Don’t forget to ask for it when you create your registry.

Another thing you can do with gift card promotion is double stacking them. For instance, “Buy $100 of Baby Stuff, Get $25 Gift Card,” and they are also doing “Buy 2 Huggies box Diapers, get $10 Gift Card.” You can do both of these at the same time and receive multiple gift cards.

Diaper Deal:

  • Buy 4 Huggies box diapers at $24.29
  • Buy 2 Huggies single wipes at $1.97
  • Total before coupons = $101.10
  • Scan registry coupon – 15.17
  • Use four $3 off Huggies – 12
  • Use two $.50 off Huggies wipes – 1
  • Pay $72.93 + tax out of pocket
  • Get one $25 gift card
  • and two $10 gift cards
  • Like paying $27.93 + tax for all of that!

 

There you have it! Those are some generally guidelines to get you started saving money at Target! If you have any questions please feel free to leave me a comment or shoot me an email!

Happy Couponing!

Natalie

 

 

Money Saving Tips

Saving Money at CVS

Now that I’m back from Vegas, I have to start saving some money again! Blackjack turned out to be a lot more fun than I thought it was going to be.

When I first started shopping at drugstores like CVS, I had no idea why people would shop there at all. The prices are so much higher then other stores and I didn’t think that it was possible to save money. Boy was I wrong!¬†Now it is one of my favorite places to coupon at.

First of all, you need to sign up for a CVS member card and download the app, (app is optional but I find it to be very helpful). Once you are signed up then you will get emails with coupons in them! The main idea when couponing at CVS is to combine sales that give ecbs (ExtraCare bucks – sort of like a gift card/coupon), with manufacturer coupons, and CVS basket coupons if you received some, to get awesome deals!

Periodically, CVS will send coupons in their emails, typically on Thursday. These are usually either basket coupons, which is a coupon for X amount off Y total. Like, save $3 off $15 purchase or $6 off $30 purchase. Sometimes it is a percent off coupon. The app usually gets new coupons on Thursdays too so always check! >Tip< When you get coupons in the email, it will have a send to card date. Wait until that date to send it to your card unless you’re going to use it right away. That way the expiration date is a tad longer if you’re waiting for the next week’s deal.

CVS also has a kiosk in-store that you scan your CVS card or enter your phone number and it will print coupons also. Sometimes the coupons that print there are different than the ones on the app so always check both.

Now lets get into some couponing.

CVS runs promotions where you buy a certain amount of items and receive a coupon to use on your next purchase, called an ECB or ExtraCare Bucks. These coupons do expire so write yourself a note or put it somewhere you won’t forget it. You can use coupons with these sales to save more money. CVS also allows you to use their coupons with manufacturer coupons.

For example:

Scott Paper Towels on sale for 3 for $15 with a buy 3 get $5 ECB

  • Use three $1 off Scott paper towels manufacturer coupons.
  • You might also have a $2 off an $11 purchase of paper towels in your app!
  • Pay $10 + tax, receive $5 ECB. So it’s like paying $5 for 3 packs of paper towels!

 

A few things to remember:

  • You can use your ExtraCare Bucks on any purchase that is at least the same amount as the coupon before taxes. So if your total is $10.71, then you can use a $10 ECB on this purchase.
    • Keep that in mind when planning your deals and using other coupons with it.
    • What I like to do is use ECBs on a purchase that will give me more ECBs so I can keep the savings rolling.
  • Give all of your coupons to the cashier, or at least let her know if you have ECBs as well.
  • If CVS is out of the item you are looking ask for a raincheck. This will enable you to get the item at sale price and/or get the ECB deal later on when the deal is over and the item is in stock again.
  • If your ECB doesn’t print, check and double check your receipt. Make sure you purchased the correct items and spent the right amount. If everything checks out then speak with the cashier and/or manager and they can force print an ECB for you if need be.
  • UPDATE:¬†Remember that when couponing at CVS, there are limits to how many times you can do a deal to receive ECB’s. Often it is limit 1, I have seen a few that were 2-4. It will state limits on the ad and on the yellow tags in-store I believe.

 

One last thing to remember>

  • CVS has a 98% rule when it comes to ECB deals. For instance, the deal is buy $30 worth of Huggies – receive $10 ECB. Say you buy 3 packs of Huggies at $9.99 each bringing your total to $29.97 before taxes. Your $10 ECB will print even though you technically did not reach the $30 criteria because of this rule. Great huh?!

Sorry I don’t have any good graphics, I’m still trying to get the hang of this blogging thing. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to comment or email me!

larueontherange@gmail.com

Happy Couponing!

 

 

 

Thoughts

Enough

I have to admit something. I’m feeling incredibly vulnerable putting these thoughts in writing.¬†But maybe this will be my therapy. My name is Natalie, and I am afraid of failure.

I’m sure this is not an uncommon fear but I can tell you it’s not easy to deal with, and comes with quite a bit of guilt. I have had quite a few ideas that I have wanted to take off with and I’ve never really done any of them because I am so afraid of failing. Creating this blog was a huge leap of faith for me. I’ve wanted to blog for a very long time and I kept putting it off and putting it off. I finally set one up, made a few posts, and fell off the wagon. Typical. I knew it was going to be hard, I am still not really sure what my “niche” is when it comes to this blog but I just want it to be real.

I’ve wanted to become a good photographer for a long time now. I have the camera, for¬†3 years. I know how to use it but have I? No. Why? I’m afraid. I’m afraid that I won’t be able to take the pictures right. I’m afraid that people won’t like them. Afraid that no one will want me to take pictures of them or their family.

I am afraid of failing at parenting. I love my girls with all my heart. I do the best that I know how. But I lose my temper and I get frustrated. Afterwards I feel guilty for having yelled at them.

But there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

I recently read a post written by a mom who was talking about overcoming her shortcomings and something she said really stuck with me.

I am enough.

And you know what? I am enough too.¬†When my sweet, sweet little B comes up and says “Momma, I love you so much!”, my heart just melts. To her, I am enough. It doesn’t matter if this blog never gets a thousand views a day. It’s not a big deal if I only ever take pictures of my kids. That is enough, more than enough in fact. It doesn’t matter if I try something and fail. It only matters if I try. If I never try, I’ll never know if I can do it or not. Failing at something is not the end. It took Thomas Edison a thousand failures before he ended up with a light bulb that worked. If he had given up, would we still be in the dark?

So I am going to revamp my blog a bit and put some more effort into it. If I only encourage one person that will be enough. I am going to pick up my camera and do some practicing. Above all else, I am going to hug my babies just a bit tighter and hold onto them longer.

If I am enough, then¬†you are enough too. Don’t let insecurities get you down. You are a good mom. You are talented. You are a great person. You are enough.

Much love, Natalie

Uncategorized

Couponing at HEB

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H.E.B. is my favorite local grocery store. They have one of the biggest selection of products, and the freshest. The prices are good and they have great sales.

There are several different ways to coupon at H.E.B. If I am unclear about anything or you have any questions, please leave me a comment or shoot me a question!

Here we go:

  • HEB does not allow stacking of coupons, which means you cannot use a manufacturer coupon (MFC) with a store coupon on a single item.
    • For example, if the yellow coupon says $1 off an item, you cannot use a manufacturer coupon for $ off the same item
  • But they do allow piggybacking, so if you have a yellow store coupon for buy one get one free, you can use a MFC on the item you buy.
    • For example, yellow Q for buy Charmin toilet paper, get wipes free, you can use a coupon on the toilet paper!
  • You can also piggyback MFCs with basket coupons. A basket coupon is like $5 off a $25 purchase (example). You save $5 instantly at the register when you use this coupon. You can use MFCs on the items you buy to lower your out of pocket expense (OOP)
    • Per HEB coupon policy you can only have one coupon per item. So if you are doing a scenario with a basket coupon and have 5 items, and 5 MFCs for those items, then that makes 6 total coupons including the yellow basket Q for the 5 items. You need a filler item, a small extra (taxable – not grocery) to allow for the “extra” coupon, so maybe a pack of gum or something like that.
    • Basket Qs can be item specific or just a total. One might say save $5 on $25 grocery purchase, so that would mean you could buy produce or toilet paper and anything in between. Another one might say save $10 when you purchase $20 worth of Loreal products.
    • You MUST use the basket coupon FIRST in order for it to register that you have enough items to qualify, then use other coupons to lower out of pocket cost.

HEB deals 2

  • HEB periodically runs specials called Catalinas. A catalina is similar to a basket coupon except when you purchase qualifying items, it will print you a coupon to use on your next purchase
    • These coupons are generally not valid until after the catalina period has ended so you cannot roll them, or use the coupon to do another catalina transaction (unless it is a different catalina) – Ex. You could receive a Catalina for a P&G promotion and then use it for a Unilever Catalina if the coupon is still valid.
    • So check your dates carefully!
  • One common Catalina promotion that HEB runs is buy $30 worth of P&G products and receive a $10 coupon for your next purchase. They will generally have flyers in store that list brands under the P&G name. A few are Bounty, Charmin, Old Spice, Tide, and Head & Shoulders.
    • One thing to remember when doing catalina transactions, let the cashier hit the total button and then hand over your coupons.
    • You can use both yellow store coupons and MFCs on the catalina items
    • An example of a Catalina transaction (hypothetical) – Buy 2 Bounty paper towels $8.98, ¬† 1 Tide Pods 16 Ct $4.47, and 2 Old Spice deodorants for a total of $30.37 which is enough to trigger the catalina coupon. After the cashier hits total, then use (2) $1 coupons off Bounty, (1) $2 coupons off Tide, and (2) $1 coupons off Old Spice deodorant. That would bring your total to $24.37 and then you would receive a $10 coupon which is like getting all of those items for $14.37! (There are much better scenarios for better deals, this is just an example)
  • If for some reason your catalina doesn’t print and you have met all the requirements, you can go to the Customer Service desk and ask for it. Per policy it has to be $30¬†before coupons, not after.
  • There are several different types of Catalina promotions with different total thresholds. They usually advertise these in the weekly ads and in-store displays.
  • If you want to get more than one catalina coupon you must separate your transactions. The register will not recognize if you have twice the necessary threshold amount and give you 2 catalina coupons, two transactions would be necessary.

 

Two scenarios that are similar but only one can be combined with MFCs.

  • You¬†cannot¬†use a manufacturer coupon with a yellow coupon that says Buy Two for $5 (example),¬†this would be considered stacking.
  • But, If there is a sale like this:

HEB coupons1

You can use two MFCs on those two items to lower OOP, this is not stacking because you do not need a store coupon to get the item at the sale price.

 

HEB also has an app that I highly recommend you download!

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You can look up prices, and it will usually show if an item is on sale. It has their weekly ad and they have¬†digital coupons! Sometimes there are coupons on the app that aren’t available in store. For example, right now in my app, I have a coupon for $2 off an $8 chips purchase!

  • To use your digital coupons enter your phone number and code (that you will set up when you make an account) into the credit card machine and it will automatically deduct any qualifying coupons.
  • You must select the coupons on the app in order for them to deduct from your transaction.
  • I have been told by several cashiers that you have to put in your digital coupons before you can use other coupons – keep that in mind when you do your transaction

 

There you have it! Couponing at HEB is fairly simple once you get the hang of it and most of the cashiers are coupon friendly! I have rarely had trouble using coupons with promotions.

Happy Couponing!

If you have any questions please drop me a comment or shoot me an email! I am more than happy to help you on your money saving journey!

 

 

Money Saving Tips

Couponing 101

I love to save money. Yes, I know what you’re going to say. Everyone likes to save money! But I love it. I watched several episodes of TLC’s Extreme Couponing and I was hooked. Now actually figuring out how to do it was a different story. After pouring over Pinterest post after post and trying and failing, I finally, sort of kind of, consider myself a Coupon Queen.

Couponing helps me to afford nicer things for my family. As a one income household¬†we do our best to make money stretch! Before couponing, I would buy the cheapest cheap stuff, cheap laundry detergent, cheap shampoo, you get the idea. Now, with couponing, I can get better brands for way less than even the cheapy stuff.¬†And it enables me to be able to buy stuff for my family that I can’t coupon for.

But one thing I love almost as much as saving money, is helping others learn how to save money! So I am starting a Couponing 101 series. I’m not going to guarantee an Extreme Couponing experience, those are very unrealistic. I can show you how to realistically save money on everyday items for your family. Stay tuned for several posts where I will cover basic couponing at some of our local stores! I am planning a Coupon Class for those who need a more hands on approach but for now this will get you started. Subscribe for email updates about these posts!

On the Range · Uncategorized

On the Range

So I thought I would take a few minutes and delve into why I chose the name LaRue on the Range, other than the fact that it’s quite catchy!

One of JW and my dreams is to one day buy a few acres and start a homestead. My definition of a homestead is a place where you live and engage in activities that help sustain yourself and your family, such as having a garden and raising livestock. I grew up in the country and we usually had a horse or two and the occasional flock of chickens and I absolutely loved it! I didn’t live in an actual neighborhood until I married JW.

One of those dreams includes a sweet little Jersey cow that provides us with delicious, creamy milk, butter, and maybe cheese one day! And of course chickens, they are my favorite!

So part of this blog’s purpose is to document our journey to having our own homestead. I don’t know if we’ll ever be completely self-sufficient but I hope to have solar panels, grow a vegetable garden, and raise our own meat! I welcome any comments and questions!

Uncategorized

The Best & Easiest Banana Bread

I thought I would change up my posts a little bit and do a recipe! After all, moms gotta cook every now and then.

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I’m not biased but my Mom makes the¬†best banana bread. Ok, I’m biased. The best day of my life was when she would ask me to come help her bake it. She got the recipe out of Aunt Bee’s Cookbook, originally called Gomer Pile’s Banana Bread. Think Andy Griffith Show, do you know what that is? Lord, I hope so! Not only is it super delicious but it is so easy to make.

Whenever I have bananas and the last one or two get a little too ripe to eat, I chuck them in the freezer. Whenever I have enough, 6 or 7, I do a happy dance and break out the butter and sugar. If you do not have bananas in your freezer and still want to make this yummy bread then grab a bunch from the grocery store and put them in the oven on 350 degrees until they are nice and brown.

My favorite way is to eat some for breakfast, warmed in the microwave for a few seconds and slathered with butter. Enjoy!

Edited: I’ve never added nuts or chocolate chips but I’m sure they would make yummy additions!

Momma’s Banana Bread

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs, well beaten
  • 6-7 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 1/2 cups flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2 large load pans or 5 small ones
  2. Cream butter and sugar. Mix in eggs, and then bananas
  3. In separate bowl, sift dry ingredients
  4. Fold into batter, mixing well. But do not over mix or bread will be crumbly
  5. Pour into pans, bake for 50-60 minutes until bounces back at touch

 

Birth & Kids

Potty Training a Stubborn Toddler

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I swore I would never post anything on Facebook or any other social media about potty training woes or successes (and I promise no judgement to you if you do!). I did however decide to make a post about it for others who had trouble potty training a stubborn child, does this count as social media? Oh well…

We started reading a potty training book to Miss B when she was about a year old. I decided to start early with the book to help her get used to the concept. But we chose to wait until after Special K was born just in case B regressed any after her new little sister got here (there will be another post later about tips for helping a toddler ready for a new baby). Thankfully we didn’t have any issues with regression but I wasn’t quite ready to tackle potty training along with taking care of a newborn.

After K was a couple months old and B was just over 2 we decided to start trying. I got her a little potty seat from Target and set it where she could see it and start getting used to it. As any mother knows, it is almost impossible to go to the bathroom without your kids barging in on you so B already knew what the potty was for.

I thought it was going to be easy. I read countless posts about how moms had potty trained their kids in 3 days at only 18 months old. At about that age B was already telling me when she had wet her diaper. Great! This will be easy peasy lemon squeazy. Needless to say this was not my experience. One tip suggested that I leave her naked in the house. The first time I did, she begged and cried for a “booty”, what we call diapers. After many attempts to distract her she finally forgot about it. Great, we’re rolling now, I thought. But no, she held it all day until I put a diaper on for¬†bed time and had several accidents on the floor. She screamed and cried whenever I tried to put her on the potty. I tried bribing (I know, not good), which didn’t work anyway. I tried this several times with many tears and frustrations for both of us. After several failed attempts I decided to take a break and try again in a couple weeks. I was almost convinced that she would never be toilet trained,¬†but the thought of changing (and buying) diapers for 2 kids any longer motivated me to keep trying

My cousin who has potty trained 3 girls gave me some pointers that ended up sealing the deal for us. She suggested getting panties for B before she was trained, instead of afterwards like I had planned on. And to ditch the diapers all together, even for bed time (we never even used pull-up training pants). So, with a renewed sense of hope we set out for the store. B picked out a lovely package of Paw Patrol panties. On the way home I talked to her about how she shouldn’t teetee on the Paw Patrol pups and how Sky (one of the characters) would be very, very sad if she was teeteed on. ¬†And to tell Mommy or Daddy if she had to go potty, with much emphasis on how cool the big girl potty is.

By the time we got home she was excited to put on her new big girl booties. We put them on and I must have asked her a thousand times if she had to go potty. We also put her potty in the living room in front of the tv so she would have a little more motivation to sit on it (JW would like me to point out that this was his idea…) Finally a success! She used the potty! We had plenty of dance parties and little treats to celebrate. We took a big risk that night taking her out to an event without a diaper on, but she still kept her clothes dry. I was so excited! I am convinced that having her pick out her special underwear was what made the difference.

The number two issue took a little bit longer to sort out. Miss B is a busy little munchkin, and getting her to sit still long enough to do the deed was difficult. She held it for three days (I was getting pretty worried) and finally, after much bribing and begging (I know, I know) she finally went. Thankfully, I had several little toys stashed away for just such an occasion.

At bedtime we made sure to have her sit on the potty and attempted to limit fluids after dinner, and for the most part she did fine. An occasional bedwetting happened but that was it. She did have to get used to not having her cup in bed, that was a sure fire way to have wet sheets. Obvious, I know, but I guess first timers don’t always think of these things.

We only had one bad experience when we were out and about. The whole family was at the store and B suddenly exclaims, teetee! I gotta teetee! So I snatched her up, mind you I was also wearing Special K in my Ergo. So I ran to the bathroom with two kids in tow. As soon as we got in there B threw a wall-eyed fit. Screaming no, no I done I done! Please sit on the potty, I pleaded. More screaming and crying. More pleading. And finally I gave up. (I’m not proud of how easily frustrated I get). Fine don’t go, I said. Not 5 minutes later, after rejoining JW in the aisle, did she have an accident and pee all over the place. I was pretty frustrated but I realized I should’ve been more patient and talked with B about it rather than lose my cool. That was the only accident in public we had.

After that I was able to come up with a little trick to help her stay on the potty. We would count to 10 several times and that would help her focus and calm down so that she could go.

Since then we have been completely potty trained, about 5 months now! Thank goodness! Sometimes it seems like more of a hassle than changing diapers (she hasn’t figured out proper wiping technique yet), but I am so thankful that it was finally a success.

What were your experiences with potty training a stubborn toddler? Any tips you would add? Comment below!

 

Birth & Kids

My Home Birth

I had my first baby the regular way, in a hospital. Before she was born I had researched home birth but at the time I felt that having a midwife was an unreachable goal and the hospital route was just the normal thing to do, obviously. While my hospital birth was not horrible or traumatic in any way I felt that it could’ve been so much better. I was induced and was able to have a vaginal birth but it could’ve gone the other way very easily.

Ever since then I poured over birth stories of women who had chosen to use midwives and had their babies at home. I was so intrigued by this and decided a long time before I was even pregnant with my second that that was what I wanted to do.

Fast forward a year or so and I was pregnant with number 2! Thank goodness JW was supportive of my decision to have this baby at home. I am a very strong willed person but it would have been difficult if he had not been on the same page.

I found several midwives in my area and interviewed both. I ended up choosing the ones that I felt most comfortable with. It was such a different experience from my previous birth. With my first, I was unable to pick my doctor and saw a different one at nearly each appointment I went to. I never even met the doctor who delivered my baby until it was time for her to be born.

My appointments with my midwives were somewhat similar to doctor’s, on the same schedule at least. But instead of sitting in the waiting room for what seemed like forever and then only getting to see the doctor for maybe 15 minutes, my midwives blocked off an entire hour for me. Not only to check baby’s heartbeat and my vitals, but to get to know me and my wishes for my birth. They did all the normal blood draws and tests so don’t think that the medical part was thrown under the rug just because they aren’t technically doctors.

I was finally getting close to D-Day, or delivery day. I was late with my first baby and hoped number 2 would make her appearance earlier, but no such luck. For any future babies I’ll just add 2 weeks to my due date that way I won’t be surprised again. I have come to terms with the fact that my body likes to hold on to my babies till they are good and ready.

Surprisingly I was never afraid or nervous about labor. A few people thought I was crazy but it was never something I had to fear. Women have been having babies for thousands of years. I had some labor pain experience before I got an epidural with my hospital birth but I was on pitocin and that tends to make things so much worse. My husband and I took a Hypnobirthing Class to help us prepare. It sounds like hippy voodoo but it was a great tool for teaching yourself to release fear and relax. I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone, whether you want a hospital or home birth. I really liked the positive affirmations that came with the program. I also put little encouraging notes all over the house. The Birth Without Fear blog was also a huge motivation for me.

I was 41 weeks plus 2 days, it was a Monday afternoon and I started feeling tightening sensations. Nothing intense or painful, just tightening. I started getting excited! They were consistent but they never got intense. I went to bed thinking surely this is it. But no, they continued on the next day, and the next, otherwise known as prodromal labor. I had my 41 week appointment on that Wednesday and my midwives talked about going to the hospital if she wasn’t here by Monday. I was really discouraged. I hadn’t come all this way just to end up going to the hospital! We decided to strip my membranes to try to get things going. I was already dilated to a 3 and was 50% effaced! That was definitely encouraging.

By the next day around lunch time I knew these contractions were different. They increased in intensity and stayed regular. At 2:00pm I was starting to have to work through them, standing was easier than sitting. I tried not to get JW’s hopes up just in case but I had him vacuuming while I washed dishes so that my house would be clean in case this really was it. JW was working nights at that time and I did not want him to leave when it was time for him to go to work. We had already called my mom to ask her to keep B that night, I told her I just wanted to rest. Not only to keep her from freaking out but also just in case this wasn’t it. See a theme? I was in denial big time. When she¬†left with B I cried like a baby, I guess all those hormones and feelings converged at once.

I had been texting my friend Debra, a doula with Tiny Tree Birth Services and told her what was going on. She came over shortly and we walked around the cul-de-sac by my house. It was dark and cool outside, I had all the doors open in my house and nothing but candle light. It was peaceful and calm, just as I hoped it would be. About an hour later, after talking through contractions, she suggested we go ahead and let the midwives know it was time to come. I was like, seriously?! Yes the contractions were getting more and more intense but again I was in complete denial. She assured me that yes, this was real and Special K was on her way. My lovely midwives arrived shortly after about the same time that JW got home, I’m pretty sure his wheels never touched the pavement.

When my midwives got there we discussed how things were going and they asked if I wanted to have an internal exam or not. I did, but I was worried that if I would be discouraged by the result. I told her she could check but just not tell me. Apparently my midwife Heather has a terrible poker face because she went Ohhhh! when she checked me. I said well now you have to tell me! She said I was an 8 and 100% effaced! She asked JW to start setting up the birth pool. Already?! He said. He was as surprised as I was. He was so supportive during labor. He held me during contractions, let me yell in his ear, and gave me little encouraging tidbits when I needed to hear them. I could not have done it without him by my side.

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A short time later I got into the pool, around 11pm. It did help to relax me but wasn’t quite the pain killer I had heard about from other’s experiences. From then on the contractions continued in duration and intensity. I never had any thoughts about going to the hospital but definitely thought, this is why people take drugs! JW, Debra, and my midwives Heather, Jessie, and Sallie kept joking back and forth and we laughed and laughed in between contractions. Something I had heard before was that making lower gutteral sounds helps your body not to tense up. I’m pretty sure our neighbors thought we were performing an exorcism or something since I sounded like a cow being killed. ¬†One thing I loved was that my body pushed on its own like it should, there was no one ordering me to push. Midwives are trained to listen to a woman’s body and only intervene if necessary. My water broke during one of these pushes, for a whole second I thought that the baby had just shot out of me! All the pressure forced the water out in a huge gush. ¬†Special K was born about 45 minutes later. The only time they told me to push was when her head was already out and I needed to push the rest of her out. I had originally wanted to catch her myself but at that point I just wanted her out, so I said someone grab her! They brought her out of the water and immediately handed her to me. I kept saying I did it! I did it! She was born at 2:15am, 9 pounds 6 ounces (smaller than my first), 19 1/2 inches long, I was 41 weeks plus 6 days.

We moved to our bed a short time later and she was weighed and checked out. I cut her cord after it had stopped pulsing. The midwives made sure we were settled in, cleaned up the pool and left about 3 hours after she was born. It was so soothing and comfortable to be in our own home and in our own bed.

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(By the way we were wrapped in a red towel) Special K looking quite unimpressed with all of our fussing.

There were so many emotions that night that it’s hard to sum it up in just a few words. It was great, it sucked, it was hard, it was easy, and on and on. It was definitely empowering! One thing I can say is that I wouldn’t have done it any other way! If we are blessed with more babies I will definitely be bringing them into the world in this same way.

One of my all time favorite pictures, my love checking out his new little girl!
One of my all time favorite pictures, my love checking out his new little girl!

 

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I finally did it!

Hey y’all! Well, I finally did it. I have been thinking and talking about starting a blog for about 2 years now. I’m sure my husband believed I would never do it. After hours and hours of reading and re-reading every Pinterest post I could find about starting a blog, I finally took the plunge. I will admit, there was quite a bit of fear holding me back from doing this. I mean, what if nobody reads it? What if it’s not successful? What if I fail? These things are of course possible but you’ll never know how the water feels unless you get your feet wet. So bear with me while I continue to figure all of this stuff out.

A little about me. My name is Natalie, I am a stay-at-home wife to a wonderful country boy, JW, and a mom to two spunky little girls, Miss B and Special K. I am a birth nerd, I love all things pregnancy, birth, and babies. I am a wannabe craft-aholic. I dabble in bow making (thanks to my two littles girls) I aspire to be a great cook and baker.  And I am working on my photography skills! My dream is to eventually become a homesteader of sorts. Complete with a family milk cow, a Jersey of course. LaRue on the Range reflects my desire to eventually own our own piece of Texas where we can raise our kids amongst farm animals and lead a somewhat self sustaining life!

Come with me on my journey to bettering my homemaking skills and exploring motherhood. I welcome comments and questions but ask that they be respectful.