Powerpoint Karaoke


I* made a thing!

Have you heard of Powerpoint Karaoke? It’s an improv game where you give a Powerpoint presentation you’ve never seen before.  Bryan had a lot of fun doing it with his coworkers when we lived in the DC area**, and so we thought it would be fun to provide some resources for other people to play.

So on the website, we have some tips to help you Make Powerpoint Karaoke Slides, or if you’re short on time we have some PowerPoint Karaoke Slides for sale.

Feel free to take a look through any one of the prodigious links I have provided, have a chuckle, and be on your way.

*By “I made a thing” I mean, I watched my husband make a thing, while I helped in a few tasks.

**We moved to Dayton, Ohio. I think that is the first announcement on this blog. More details to follow.


Homemaking Makes Economic Sense

This week, I ate in a restaurant twice.  Which is seriously astounding.  We never go out to eat, and this is why.

On our anniversary dinner, my husband and I ordered an omelet dish and two slices of cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory.  We had a gift card (Thanks Valerie), but without it the total was about $30.  What baffled me was that I could have made the same for less than one third that price. The entree had eggs, potatoes, chicken sausage, toast, avocado, onions… more deliciousness that I can’t remember.  (But for a single serving, those spices cost almost nothing.  I usually say that all the spices in a recipe (for a family) costs $.05.)  I estimated that the ingredients for that recipe cost $1.50.  Cheesecake Factor charged us about $12.

“But the cheesecake!” you say.  “Those ingredients are expensive, and really hard to make!”  Okay.  Each slice was about $8.  And they each are what, one twelfth of a cheesecake?  I’m assuming you divide each quarter of the cheesecake into three slices.  For twelve slices total.  $8 x 12 slices=$96.  That sounds a little ridiculous.  Let’s pretend it was only $6 dollars a slice, and you only get 10 slices out of the cheesecake.  $6 x 10 slices = $60.

This is the very cheesecake that we got (one of them.)

Graham cracker crust (I don’t think you really need to buy graham crackers and then crumble them.  I bet there is a recipe out there for graham crackers that you can just skip the cooking and crumbling step. Yep.: $.30

5 tablespoons of butter: $.20

1 cup sugar: 10 pounds for $15, 1 pound is 2 1/2 cups,… $.12

Cream cheese: $4.00 (I don’t know about this one, but this is my estimate.)

1 cup canned pumpkin: $.50

3 eggs: 12 for $2.00: $.50

Spices: $.05

Whipped Cream: half gallon for $4.00.  I wouldn’t put more than half of it on the pie, so $2.00.

I estimate that the ingredients for an entire cheesecake–the very cheesecake at Cheesecake Factory–costs $7.67.  I paid that much at the restaurant for a single slice.

Let’s divide $7.67 by 12 slices, just to give us a laugh. $.77.

Seventy seven cents. 

If my husband and I had stayed home and made cheesecake together as our anniversary date, we could have made an entire pie for the same amount of money that we spent on a single slice.

sure, it takes about two hours to cook a cheesecake, 40 minutes of which are hands-on time.  Let’s pretend it is 2 hours of hands-on time.  The very conservative estimate of how much a Cheesecake Factory cheesecake costs (paying by the slice) is $60.

If you were to make a cheesecake, you should consider that you are getting paid $30 an hour.  If you made it while your small children were home, you should also pay yourself for childcare, and I have three children… $20 per hour? $40 for cheesecake making time.  If your laundry machine was running, add two hours of minimum wage work… $16.

If you choose to work outside the home so you can afford to go out to eat at places like the Cheesecake Factory, please tell me that you make at least $50 per hour.

Your Grandmother Never Made a Sensory Table

Pinterest loves sensory tables. Therefore you should too.

But your grandmother was smarter than Pinterest.  She never made a sensory table.  She made bread.

She also never made play-doh.  She made real dough.  And then she baked it.  And then she had bread.

You can make bread for about $.50 per loaf.  I buy four loaves per week at Walmart, so I spend $8 on bread every week, or $33.60 per month (the average month has 4.2 weeks in it), when I could be spending $2 per week, or $8.40.

So here is a fun sensory activity to do with kids THAT SAVES YOU TWENTY FIVE DOLLARS EVERY MONTH.

Here are some tips on how to bake bread with toddlers.  The kids loved “putting the dough to bed” under the dish towel to rest.


I had the kids mix together dry ingredients (white flour, wheat flour, flax, baking whatever it is, salt) with a chopstick.  They wrote letters and stirred and made very little mess.  But if they did spill, they spilled onto a fresh tablecloth that I just picked up and carried to the sink to empty.  I didn’t stress about super clean hands or touching faces because I was going to bake the bread before I ate it.  Peter couldn’t wait, though, and he ate most of his dough raw.  He also ate the flour mixture.  He said it tastes like oats.  (Sometimes we eat dry, uncooked oats with milk.  Ask me about it some time.)


Apple Pie From Scratch and Love Recipe

I’m learning about making apple pies from scratch.  Here are the most useful videos I watched on youtube.

NYC Private Chef slices an apple really quickly

French chef peels an apple

Pie Crust Designs


My Favorite


Edge decoration

What to do with the peels


Saving Money in Your Food Budget

These tips were learned when we were married college students scraping by. I’m not going to tell you our budget, because then we start comparing each other and everything is weird.

This post has a crabby tone, and the tips I share aren’t all fun and games.  They are a significant amount of work.  There is a continuum between “quick and easy” and “cheap.” I’m suggesting that it is possible to live closer to “cheap” than you do right now.  Our great-great-great grandmothers would be shocked to see how their descendants live.  The clothes are dirty?  Put them in a machine, and they come out clean.  Dishes are dirty?  Different machine, same outcome.  Baby soils a diaper?  Throw it away.  Turn a knob to create fire.  Put your food in a magical box where it doesn’t spoil so quickly. Put ingredients in a pot, plug it in, come back at the end of the day and dinner is done.

What do we do with all of that time?  I guess some moms use the time they would be scrubbing diapers or kneading bread to write reports or analyze trends.  I just hope we don’t spend all this miracle free time staring at boxes that light up and trick our brains into not moving for hours.

So there is a sweet spot for you on our cheap-quick continuum.  I would suggest that you get what you pay for, and you pay for what you get.  If you don’t want to pay for something, don’t get it.  If you don’t want to pay as much for something, don’t get as much.

One final disclaimer: of course my tips are ridiculous.  By visiting my blog, you asked.

Don’t hire a personal chef.  Whenever you buy something in a different form than it came out of the earth in, you are paying someone to help you cook.  It’s okay to not have the money to do this.  And it’s okay to not choose to spend the money to do this.

Do the work yourself:  make dough from scratch.  Chop your own vegetables.  Cook your own beans.

Also, don’t go out to eat.  There.  I said it.

You are paying A LOT more for someone else to decorate your dining room, learn good recipes, cook your food, and clean up after you.  “But I love to eat out!”  Great!  Do it less often.  That makes it more special. “But I’m too tired to cook right now!” Sorry. Go to bed earlier tomorrow. “But I don’t have time to cook a full meal from scratch every night!” Maybe not. Figure out freezer meals and the crockpot.  “But I enjoy it when someone does it for me!”  Do you also need someone to dress you?  Bathe you?  Clean your house?  Drive you around?  Maybe.  But if you can’t afford a personal chef, don’t hire one.

Are you a bad cook?  Take a month and devote all your free time to learning about cooking on the internet and practicing.  Practice a (cheap) recipe two or three times, and keep notes on the recipe you print out.  Chefs at a restaurant don’t do anything you can’t do.  They take food and they follow a recipe and make something good.  Google “copycat recipes.”  When I worked at BYU catering, I served delicious looking gourmet food.  I was shocked to go to their food storage area one time and find… cans of food.  Store brand.  Nothing fancy.  With all of the Internet at your fingertips, “I don’t know how to make restaurant quality food” is not a valid excuse.

There is joy to be found in life that does not involve “going out to eat.” There are things you can do on dates that don’t involve restaurants.

If your friends go out to eat a lot, and you would miss important social experiences if you stay home, pick and choose the times you go with them.  Or eat at home first, and order just a little bit. Or share it with someone.  Or brown bag it.  Or take it out of your allowance.  Eating out with friends is more like paying for a movie than buying food.

Eat the cheapest healthy foods. Focus on healthy food that is also cheap, and eat lots of that.  Eat more beans, brown rice, oats, potatoes, eggs, tuna, bananas, and cabbage, and less blueberries, breakfast cereal, ice cream, chocolate and cheese.  (The cheapest sweet food, per ounce, are jolly ranchers. And they are great because they take a long time to eat and you never go back for seconds, but they do provide that little bit of sweetness you are looking for at the end of the meal.)

Pair cheap ingredients with expensive ingredients, but in the proper amount

I am loving the book Budget Bytes.  The bulk of the meals are cheap like beans, rice, chickpeas, and lentils, but it is made delicious using a small bit of expensive ingredients.  I made a rice and lentil dish seasoned with allspice and cranberries.  It was delicious.  Mostly.  And the kids ate a little bit.  They ate the scoop I gave them, and then I served them some other leftovers.  Honestly, the little bit of something else for kids doesn’t cost very much, but an adult portion of something else does.  So if the adults eat the rice and lentil dish, and the kids eat some for the principle of the thing, the cost is lowered.

Prepare simple recipes with cheap ingredients. If a recipe has an ingredient with a high cost per ounce, Google substitutes for ____.  Or, find a different recipe.  Yes, your recipe won’t turn out exactly like theirs, but you won’t pay as much for it as they did.  You might be limited on how many recipes you can make, but most people have like ten different recipes that they cycle through and are completely happy.

If cooking fancy food with expensive ingredients is your thing, either channel that energy to making cheap ingredients taste delicious or just have those meals less often.

Food budget is strictly for nutrition.  It’s not for entertainment.  Your entertainment is another category.  And there are so many ways to enjoy your life that doesn’t involve putting something sweet on your tongue.  (Try creating something.) Froot Loops, ice cream, and goldfish are not nutrition. You don’t need to buy them.

The lifestyle door only swings one way.  As people progress in their careers, they have more money to spend on food, and their options get more and more delicious for less and less personal effort.  It’s extremely difficult to reduce your standard of living.  It’s way easier to just never buy goldfish than to buy it for a while, get your toddler hooked on them, then try to stop.  Try to avoid the thinking that you “deserve” nice food.  Think very carefully about buying something more expensive than you usually buy.  Are you willing to “need” to buy that thing for the rest of your life?

Plan your meals. This follows the same principles at Just In Time manufacturing, where businesses don’t store warehouses of inventory.  They plan really carefully so they get products “just in time” to use it in their own processes.  Instead of walking down the aisles of the grocery store, picking yummy things off the shelf; make a meal plan and a list of needed items for those meals.  Then go to the grocery store and buy those items only and then leave.  If you see something you want, show a little discipline.  Instead of buying it, go home and put it on your shopping list for next week.

What about food storage?  Buy (cheap) food staples in bulk.  Lots of snack food is not food storage, it’s shelf life is extremely short.  (Try to keep a box of Lucky Charms on your pantry shelf.)

Don’t go to the store hungry, or you will buy more things with a low-effort, high-calorie ratio, which are far away from “cheap.”

Going with other people distracts me from price calculations and making good decisions.  Sometimes I do have to take my three little ones.  And when they are all on the edge, I just grab stuff to get out quick.  But I have trained them to not ask for stuff: just don’t buy it.  Ever.  If they ask for ice cream, tell them, “Oh, man!  That’s not on the list.  Remind me you want ice cream while I make a shopping list next time.”  If you buy the candy at the checkout one time, they will ask for it for the rest of their life.  If you’re not going to go home and put it on the shopping list for next week, so if you’re going to give in, at least go back to the candy aisle and get a better deal.  If you don’t have time for that, tell the child that that candy is too expensive at the checkout stand and you don’t have time to go get a better deal.  The child will scream.  And the child will be less likely to ask next time.

I read a study once about changing habits.  It may have been about animals.  This would have a lot more credibility if I had the details of the study here.  Maybe someday.  Anyway:  The researchers got the… subjects… used to a certain type of reward for a simple action.  Then they stopped giving that reward.  If there was absolutely no rewards for about five or six actions, the subjects stopped performing the action.  If there was sometimes a reward and sometimes not, the subjects performed the action something like 100 more times.  If you want zero tantrums, give in zero times.

Count your grams of protein. Americans eat A LOT of meat, especially beef.  Way more protein than a human needs.  And it happens that protein is more expensive per ounce than other food.  Why are we eating too much of the most expensive food?  American culture baffles me sometimes.

I have experimented with vegetarianism a few times, and going without meat for a long time saps me of energy.  Especially when I am pregnant, I need beef every so often to make me feel less depressed (I usually buy ground turkey, which tastes the same).  So I would say, eat beans and eggs and quinoa and tofu more often, but experiment with less and less meat to find your sweet spot.

Don’t buy snack food.  When you want a snack, you feel lazy and don’t want to eat frugally. You eat the most delicious, easiest food possible (which is also the most expensive.  See above about the personal chef thing.) But if you don’t buy snack foods, you don’t have them in your house to eat (which is healthier).  Buy whole fruit, cut up veggies ahead of time, make toast (from 100% whole wheat bread), eat frozen apple chips.  I’m crabby about my kids and snacks.  If I give them snacks between meals, then they don’t eat dinner (which is healthy and cheap and I spent a lot of time on.)  And they are picky at dinner.  Because they are not that hungry.  They can afford to be picky because they know all they have to do is wait an hour and then cry, and they will get some delicious snacks.

If you are going to give them snacks because they physically need nourishment between meals, make healthy, cheap snacks ahead of time.  If they are actually hungry, they will eat it.  If they are just bored, they probably won’t.  Which will cause them to be hungry enough to eat dinner properly.

Don’t pay for nothing. The most expensive food is the food you throw away.  And the time to worry about wasting food is not when you clean out moldy things from the fridge, because there is nothing you can do then.  The decision is made for you.  The time to worry is when you are looking in your fridge for something to eat.  Was that meal not too terribly delicious last night?  I bet there are some seasonings you can add, or another way to cook it, or something better to pair it with.  (This did not come naturally to me.  I learned it from my husband, who eats the nasty leftovers.  It makes me feel bad, but it makes me more likely to use them in the future.)

When you open your fridge to find something to make for dinner, start with the leftovers.  Place high priority on using those up before you open something newer.

Don’t coupon.  There are never coupons for dry beans, milk, cheese, or fresh fruits and vegetables. Even if you get a dollar off something packaged, you’re still paying for something you would not have normally bought.  The store brand is probably cheaper than the brand the coupon is for, and the cheapest healthy food is even cheaper than the store brand processed food.  Food companies always win.  They don’t issue coupons because they love you.  Or because you deserve it.  They issue coupons because it makes them money.  Coupons make you give your money to them.

I do admit that if you pair a manufacturer coupon with a store sale, you might be able to purchase food more cheaply than the cheapest healthy food.  But you have to immerse yourself in their constant advertisement, which makes eating simply and cheaply so much less enjoyable.  And it seems like so much work to learn how to coupon and then stay on top of all coupon sources and all stores’ sales.  That’s not enough reason to not do something, and one of the principles on this post is is “do more work.”  Perhaps someday I will get into it.  But every attempt I have made thus far still leads me to believe that shopping with coupons is cheaper for the normal American grocery trip, but that buying whole food is cheaper.

Don’t buy anything food companies want you to buy. Don’t buy the foods in commercials that are brightly packaged with well designed logos and familiar characters.  Food companies want you to buy those foods because they can get more of your money that way.  They don’t make much profit off dry beans and potatoes.  But they put so much sodium and high fructose corn syrup in processed food that you are addicted to it and you will continue to buy it even though it’s killing your budget.

Food companies don’t like you and they don’t want your children to be healthy.

I feel a little embarrassed at that strong language, but if you go in a store with that mindset, you’ll come out with more of your money in your pocket.

Stick to your budget. The only way to stick to your budget… is to stick to your budget. To the cent. If you’re willing to go a dollar over budget, then make that the budget and stick to it to the cent.  Tell the cashier when he or she starts scanning your items to stop scanning at a certain amount. Arrange your items on the conveyor belt in order of how much you want them.  That prevents you from digging through bags to decide what you don’t want as much.  When an item goes partially over the amount, they will look at you and you tell them to take it off.  Stand up for budgets!  Show people that it’s possible to keep to your word!

To make it a little easier on yourself, estimate your list as you make it.  Write how much you think it will cost next to the list item.  When you go to the store, you might be wrong, but you’ll learn, over time, how much things cost. While you shop, either pull out the calculator, or continue to estimate.  I found that estimating to the half-dollar was extremely accurate.  If I was not willing to put things back, I’d probably do the calculator thing.  (I would also do this calculation:

weekly food budget/((sales tax percentage+100)*100)=cost of the food you should put in your cart.)  If your budget was $400, and you live in Virginia so your sales tax is 2.5%, you can only put $390.24 worth of food in your cart.

Okay, that’s all. Do you feel sad in your heart?  I feel crabby in my heart.  This is tough stuff.  Actually saving money is not easy.  Just remember that joy in life comes from relationships with friends and family, from nature, from accomplishments, from the Spirit, from righteousness, from music, from art, from reading, from learning, from creativity.  It doesn’t have to come from the two seconds a bite of food is passing through your mouth.

Manser Muffins

  • 3 c flour
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 c milk
  • 1/2 c oil

Spray muffin tin.

Mix the wet and dry ingredients separately, then mix them together, but not too much.

Spoon into muffin tin, fill 3/4 full

Makes 18 muffins.

375 degrees F for 12-15 minutes.

When they come out, go around each one and pop them out, and let them cool that way.

Freezer Meals

are awesome. 

I just completed my first round of freezer meals, and it was great.  Huge time saver.  It doesn’t take twice as long to make twice as much food, and definitely not four times as long to make four times as much food. Instead of cooking an hour every day, I cooked all day one day, then enjoyed more than a month of minimal dinner preparation.  

If I didn’t have a whole day, I would take a week, then make dinner each day four times.  Eat one portion, freeze three. This works well for many reasons: 1.) Once you have all the ingredients and equipment out and dirty, it doesn’t take that much longer to repeat the meal a few more times. 2.) If you ruin a recipe, you won’t be stuck eating it three more times; you’ll learn from your mistakes.   3.) I don’t have the giant pots and bowls to make huge batches.  Nor do I know how to make huge batches. (Apparently.)

The freezer meal literature out there stresses the value of quality freezer packaging.  Save a few cents on store-brand freezer bags, lose a meal.  

I chose recipes that passed through a liquid-like state at some point.  Sloppy Joes, German pancake batter, casseroles in a bag, mac and cheese (next time I’ll just freeze the cheese sauce), soup, stew (raw potatoes turn nasty black in the freezer), spaghetti sauce. I also made enchiladas in a disposable pan, froze pancakes in a stack, and individually wrapped (in plastic wrap and foil) burritos (which were the best.  Bryan loved to take them to work.)

Then I made a huge shopping list and went shopping ALONE. I wish I had brought my meal plan with me when I shopped; I had questions about what kind of what-what to buy, and if I had known what the what-what was for, I would have made a more informed decision. 

I didn’t rock the money saving.  I don’t know why.  We had guests several times during the month, and I made fresh food for them (didn’t feel like feeding them the black potatoes or mush and cheese).  And I got way too much tortillas, cheese and meat.  So if you are just smarter about your planning than me, you should be better off. 

This is a boring post.  I’m sorry.


My Coding Environment

You don’t care about the following information. Seriously. You should probably stop reading.

I’m writing this in the WordPress text editor.

I have almost finished the HTML and CSS course on Codecademy.com. I wanted a place to practice what I have learned, by making my own stuff, so this is what I set up.

I downloaded Notepad++. I write my code there, and I can apparently save it as a .html file or a .css file. Then I go into Windows Explorer, right click on my file, and say, Open With Chrome. I snap that window to the right, and snap Notepad++ to the left. I make a change in Notepad++, save the file, then refresh my browser to see the update. When I am done editing my html and css files, I save them in my My Website folder in my Public folder of my Dropbox folder. Then I right click on the file and say “Copy Public Link” which is here.

So this is a little website of pictures of my family, hosted on Dropbox, created by me, who still has a lot to learn.

Including whether this is actually a “development environment.” I’ve just heard Bryan throw that term around, and I’m assuming it’s this. He’ll probably get a chuckle out of that.

Maybe it’s not a coding environment. Maybe it’s just a workflow? Well, if it is a workflow, it’s probably a pretty primitive one, which he will also have a chuckle about.

Programming Month

Having been influenced by my web developer husband, I, Holly Braun, have committed to learn to code.

I’m using Code Academy to learn HTML and CSS, and I plan to use Scratch to take brain breaks.

I’m rocking it. In fact, I’m typing this post in the “text” editor instead of the “visual” editor. I’m not clicking the Bold and Italics or Link buttons and I feel awesome.

I also feel like a hacker. Everyone else is asleep (Two are locked in their room, a third can’t walk yet, and the fourth one gave a double red blood cell donation and apparently his body overrode(?) his brain. “Okay. You, Bryan, are not in charge anymore. You are going to sleep. Now.”). It’s only–what?!11:30. I seriously was going to type 10:30. Anyway, it’s all dark because my light burned out. So here I am, the last one awake, alone in the dark, coding. I feel like Bryan.

Anyway, for one of my exercises I need to link to pictures on the web, and the pictures I want are not on the web yet, so I need to upload them. But by the time you are reading this, they are on the web.






Looking Back on Birth Preparation


I prepared a lot for this birth.  As with all preparation, it’s impossible to prepare exactly the right amount, and this time I over-prepared.  However, I knew I had done a lot and that I was ready, and that gave me confidence.  In March or April, I blogged about what I had done to prepare.  I ended up not doing some of the things I said I would, some of what I did was not helpful, and some of it was tremendously helpful.  For the maybe three people who care, let me evaluate my preparation steps.

Hypnobabies was extremely helpful for me.  I listened to tracks when I was in my labor and delivery room, and I never could have gone natural without it.  I would say it kept me relaxed, calm, and handling contractions very well until about an 8.  At that point, I should have switched to rhythm and ritual, or a shower, or massage, or the birth ball, as described in the Birth Partner’s Guide, by Penny Simkin.  I thought it was kind of in conflict with Hypnobabies, and, after all, “I always choose to continue using my Hypnobabies tools.”  Simkin says that relaxation is important/works until about transition, at which point you can probably stop worrying about it, if it’s not working.  I should have stopped worrying about it when it stopped working.

In the last few weeks of pregnancy, listening to Hypnobabies tracks in the afternoon was the best.  If I fell asleep, I got a really good nap.  If I didn’t, I felt refreshed at the end of the half-hour anyway.

If I had listened to the Hypnobabies affirmations more often, I think I would have been more sane.  It’s not a hypnosis CD, you just listen to it when you are doing other things.  It says things like, “Pregnancy is natural, normal, healthy and safe for me and my baby.”  “I remain calm during my birthing time.”  “I accept my pregnant body every day.” “I now feel inner peace and serenity.”  It’s good to combat the crazy pregnancy thoughts like, “Aaah!” or “I’m fat!” or “This sucks!” or “I’m never doing this again!” or “If I don’t have that baby today I am going to die!”

I said I was going to create an exercise routine that incorporated yoga positions and strengthening exercises that I liked/could still do, so that I was strong enough to be active in labor.  I skipped my daily workout increasingly often at the end, and ended up laying down during most of my labor.  But it did some good in keeping me flexible.

I went through the hymn book and found some hymns where the lyrics would be helpful to me, like As Sisters in Zion, Nearer My God to Thee, and I Need Thee Every Hour, and I bought my favorite arrangement off iTunes.  I didn’t use it during labor because it was too distracting, but I did use it to go to sleep in the hospital when my brain wouldn’t shut off, and neither would the hospital’s announcements.  Which is fine.  Sometimes you just gotta announce stuff when you are in a hospital.

I found some scriptures that I thought would be helpful.  You know when you are on a run and you have nothing to listen to?  All you can think about is how bad running feels at the moment and how you want to stop.  I made notecards with the scriptures printed on them, but I never looked at them.  I also wrote some philosophies on notecards, which I didn’t look at, but which I thought about sometimes, and they helped.  Here are some of those philosophies:

  • Imagine this scene:  your baby is in heaven, and Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother are saying goodbye to him.  He’s going to be gone from them for a very long time and he is going to go through some really tough things.  Heavenly Mother especially… she gives him a hug (which I feel too).  Then one more.  …maybe just one more.  Okay, you can go.  No!  One more…
  • Each generation of women between you and Eve gave birth, and each experienced it all.  (With the possible exception of your mother and grandmother and great-grandmother.)
  • Contractions are steps for your baby from heaven to earth.  They are limited.  But you must be there with him for every one.
  • My notes from a scripture study on fasting, because you can’t eat in the hospital.  Fasting is to draw closer to God, to request blessings, to develop greater spiritual strength, to worship God, to exercise faith in Jesus Christ, to energize us spiritually, to strengthen self-discipline, to lighten hearts with joy, to open the windows of heaven.
  • This one is important when anticipating labor (but terrible during labor): I am willing to experience all that is before me.
  • This one is better suited for labor:  You don’t have to do all of labor right now.  You just have to do this one contraction right now.  You just have to do this one second of this one contraction right now.  If you can handle this current second, you’re going to make it.

To pack my hospital bag, I compiled what I learned about comfort measures during labor from The Birth Partner’s Guide and Pinterest pins about what goes in doulas’ bags.  (I was kind of preparing to be my own doula… and save $850.)  I put it in a large rolling suitcase because I wanted there to be plenty of room.  With Heidi’s birth, I remember that getting us all to the car to go home was terrible because there was no room in my bag so we had to carry it separately.

Here’s what I used:

  • Pink hand-held travel fan
  • Headband (my hair doesn’t all go in a ponytail)
  • the corner of my sheet (I wanted something soft to hold, don’t judge)
  • Hypnobabies track called “Easy first stage,” I listened to it twice.
  • Depends (for birth goo.  and for when you don’t feel like getting up.  Once again, don’t judge.)
  • snacks for husband
  • camera
  • iPad

Here’s what I did not use:

  • towel for the car
  • birth ball
  • stainless steel water bottle to fill with hot water and roll over my lower back
  • hairtie
  • chapstick
  • sports bra and shorts (hospital gown didn’t bother me at the time)
  • toothbrush (for freshening up if you throw up.)
  • and mousse (I sent home most of my stuff early with Bryan, and he accidentally took all of that with him.)

The Birth Partner book gave lots of ideas for comfort positions and techniques.  I went through them with Bryan so he would know what I was asking for, and so I would know if he felt uncomfortable with any.

The best preparation, however, was my previous two births. 🙂  I reflected on my experiences, and found solutions to my previous problems.

And the best thing that helped me was… a fast labor.  I told myself that I could get an epidural after twelve hours in the hospital and after all of our comfort techniques had been exhausted.  I only spent five hours laboring in the hospital, and never really cracked open the suitcase.