Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Meet Jennifer Fountain / Real People Wednesday

Meet Jennifer Fountain / Real People Wednesday:

Hello lovely readers! Did you enjoy our posts on juicing yesterday and Monday? We have a wonderful interview for you today! I was so excited when Jennifer from Growing Up Triplets agreed to do an interview for our Real People Wednesday Series. I have followed her blog for a long time now and truthfully, her blog is hands down one of the best and most informative that I read in the natural health world. She used to work a full time job as an events coordinator for a huge church in Orlando and now she has transferred all of those skills to researching and writing about living a natural lifestyle for her, her husband, and their triplets! Yes, triplets! Whenever moms with kids ask me questions about natural living in regards to children, her blog is one of the first things I point them to.She really does the hard work of learning, reading, and researching that so many of us either do not have time to do or do not want to do. Do you have questions on vaccinating your kids? No problem-- she has done the research!! Do you wonder how to feed your kids and even babies nutritious food?? Well-- here ya go! Questions or setbacks breastfeeding? Well, she addresses a lot of those questions and also writes at the Breastfeeding Place where they address all sorts of baby, momma, and breastfeeding topics.  Not only is she an avid researcher, but she also lives the things she teaches about and writes about it all in a practical way. You know the bone broth I make? I first read about how easy and nutritious bone broth is on her blog before making it myself.  I also gained knowledge about raw milk, it's health benefits and where to buy it from on her blog. I've since only purchased raw milk and have made many yummy treats including my no-ice-cream-machine-needed-ice cream and cheese out of it. I still haven't tried her kombucha popsicles or fermented ketchup as you will read about below, but I can't wait to make those as well. I've been excited to feature her for a while because she is an amazing source and wealth of information. I know you will benefit and glean from her as much as I have-- and she is completely interesting and entertaining along the way! And-- if Jennifer, a mom of triplet toddlers can eat healthy, cook from scratch, write a successful blog and still take care of her own health, then that gives me great hope for all of us! 

Meet Jennifer~ 

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself! Where you live / what you do / what your husband does / your triplets! / how many people and creatures live in your house / what you are passionate about / etc.

A: Well, I’m in my…early thirties…I think. I got married 4.5 years ago and became pregnant 13 months after we got married - with triplets! We recently moved to TN from FL (where I was born and raised!) and are currently working on plans to buy some land and create a little homestead - I’m planning for kitties, dogs, chickens, goats and a garden! Cows and horses will be icing on the cake. My hubby is in real estate and is super passionate about helping people find their dream home - I’m thinking this will come in handy when we look for our dream homestead. :)

There are currently just the five of us in our temporary town home. I have decided, though, that I shall not add inside animals to the mix until I’m not wiping triple the bums (we just potty-trained). I can make that decision, right?

I am passionate about being the primary caregiver of our kiddos and so blessed to be in a position to do so. It’s tough to be with them and sometimes I find myself talking in toddler-speak, but I also count it a high privilege. These years will be gone before I know it and I want to be confident that I won’t have any regrets in the way of time spent with them.

While this is a big goal, it makes it challenging to also run my website, Growing Up Triplets. My goal with this site is to inspire others with living the natural life and how easy so many aspects are. Many times people shake their heads: triples? blog? grow your food?? How do you do it all? Here’s the secret: lots of things are just em, easy, em. No, really, I promise. The hardest part? Researching what will work best for you and your family. So part of what I share on the blog is the easy-to-understand research I’ve done so that others don’t have to search and search.

I also write about raising our children - (higher-order) multiples is a unique situation but parenting any number and type of children is hard work. I want to encourage mothers on this journey with me.

And my faith is a huge part of our lives. It has changed the way I approach life - no guilt for what I can’t “get to” or didn’t “get done” or for what I did do. It’s integral and ultimate. I love being able to share this aspect with my readers because it’s so freeing.

Q: Tell us about your story and journey with being healthy and natural living. Has this always been important to you? When did it become so?

A: You know, I remember the first time I heard the term “organic.” I’d shopped for a friend and she commented that I’d gotten organic foods and did I know that. I didn’t. I didn’t know what “organic” meant! That was probably 7 or 8 years ago. Fast forward a couple years ago and I was in a car accident. I went to a fantastic chiropractor where I didn’t just get my “back cracked” but I was taught exercises that strengthened my core, spine, etc. While doing these exercises in-office, we saw documentaries. These changed my life. I quit drinking Diet Coke (about 48+ oz daily) cold turkey. I bought raw milk and cheese. I bought grassfed beef. But I didn’t really “know” what I believed.

Fast forward a couple more years and I now have 5 month old triplets. Who will probably be scrounging for food soon. What do I want to feed them? What is citric acid? Is meat ok in the first year? What about grains? All of these questions propelled me on a furious study of natural living. I felt like I was in a crash course of Ma Ingalls’ life! I learned so much in one year - mostly online while breastfeeding…breastfeeding triplets means ya sit down a lot.

A couple years later and things like soaking grains, fermenting foods, cooking from scratch and the *why* behind it all is, well, old hat. It fits like a comfortable glove, this natural living. Recently I shared on Facebook that I hadn’t gotten my post-move groove back till I was fermenting something!

Q: I often find in my own life that physical health goes right along with emotional and spiritual health. How do you see that at play in the life and rhythm of your family? Are they compartmentalized to you or have you seen them to be one and the same?

A: That’s a great question!! Hmm… You know, I’ve known some very physically unhealthy people who are the strongest emotionally and spiritually. They are steadfast, faith-filled people…not perfect, but steadfast. They are good listeners and aren’t swept away by every rising trend (and let’s face it - there can be some big “trends” in the world of health!). On the flip side, I know some incredibly healthy people - so healthy and crunchy and foodie and homegrown you’d think you were back 150 years on Granny’s porch. But their emotional and spiritual health seems trumped by unhealthy responses like anger or pride. This makes them very difficult to talk to or even listen to another tirade.

So I would say that, ideally, they should work together. As I mentioned earlier, my faith in Christ actually causes me to feel released from any pressure to “be more.” I *don’t* have to do it all. Christ gave this earth to us to use, till, eat, etc. In the same vein, He requires us to be good stewards - of our earth, our health, etc. So there can really be a happy balance here. When we know better we can do better…as we can. That last little bit is, I think, central to those of us on the natural living journey. We don’t have to be emotionally healthy, spiritually healthy and recycle every tidbit, source out the greatest quality of foods, breastfeed our children till they are 7, etc. Similar to my journey towards becoming more like Christ, this natural living journey is just that - a journey. There will be ebb and flow along the way, growth and failure. That’s ok!

Q: As I talk to people about wellness, I often hear the concern that living naturally and eating well sounds amazing in concept but in reality it seems so daunting financially and time-wise. The other main concern I often hear is that people feel like they would have to deprive themselves of yummy foods in order to eat healthy. We work hard to debunk some of those beliefs on our blog. I'm sure you've encountered some of these concerns in your life and in the life of your family. How have you dealt with these common concerns and any practical tips to share in any of these areas?

A: Mmm! I hear this, too! Heck, I felt this way!! When I worked full-time I remember thinking, “No wonder she can make her own bread - she stays home with the baby!” Ha! Well, now I’m a work-while-they-sleep-mom and I often think, “I could have done this while I worked full-time!”

I think a lot of it stems from how we have been groomed to think. Commercials and packaging make us think that *this* is the way to go - why slave over creating your own food when somebody else in a factory can do it for you? In reality, much of the work that’s required to live naturally comes from the massive amount of research it can take to do an overhaul of a lifetime of habits. I bought my toiletries, cleaning products and food from the grocery store. I had no idea when I began this journey that I could…gasp…make my own meat stock! Or a host of other things.

Most changes towards natural living, I’ve found, tend to be a “start ‘em and leave ‘em” process. I mix ingredients for ketchup and leave it for a few days. Now I have a probiotic-rich, delicious ketchup that *literally* took me a couple of minutes to prepare.

I would have to say that the biggest change for me is the larger amounts of time it takes to plan. If I run out of hand soap, I don’t call the hubby to stop at the store, I plan to put a pot of my brew on the stove. If I need bread, I need to plan in advance to reactivate my starter so it can be ready for baking day.

Now this may make some readers throw their hands up and say, “See! Who has time for that??” I guarantee - if you pick one area you’d like to change and focus on that until you feel you can teach someone else without looking at a blog post or book….you will. Eventually. We all started somewhere and none of us have arrived.

And, honestly? It’s fun!! I loved cloth diapering the trio and was glad I took the plunge because the work was truly minimal for the innumerable benefits. I love making our food from scratch and knowing exactly where it came from and that Farmer George loves his cows and really ‘preciates us (—— read in your best southern drawl). I love knowing that products I use won’t cause cancer or invite other health risks.

The time and money invested will eventually pay off and you will start saving money and time!

And as far as not being able to eat yummy foods…have you *seen* Pinterest lately? I am itching to buy this ice cream maker so I can make raw milk ice cream that is nourishing and delicious!!! In the meantime, I usually have a yummy dessert-y smoothie made with raw and organic ingredients. Or I’ll mix up some of my gluten-free cupcakes that have the toughest critics coming back for more. Or some blueberry sourdough scones. Or even some fair-trade, organic dark chocolate! And all this? Yeah, that’s just for dessert. Don’t get me started on my Chinese craving that can easily be mastered with real food ingredients...

Q: What are some of your favorite go-to's for a sick baby? A sick momma?

A: A sick baby? Is he breastfed? Awesome - keep that baby on as much as he wants and pour breast milk into or onto any symptomatic part of the body. I kid you not. Breast milk is amazing. Before I weaned the triplets (at 31 months), I expressed some more just to be able to have over the next year for eye/ear infections, rashes, etc. So the same would go for mama if she’s breastfeeding - use that milk!

But if breast milk is not available, there are lots of ways to heal the body without turning to modern medicine. For internal things like flu, colds, etc., I up the dosage for Vitamin D3 for anyone these drops for baby, give probiotics, feed bone broth, etc. I love amber necklaces (for baby and grown-ups!), homeopathic remedies and essential oils (I find that the body loves many things and not one treatment in particular).

However, I want to clarify that the world of medicine is a fantastic world and one that truly does save many lives. Again, we must balance our approach and know our limits - whether they be with knowledge or resources.

Q: I often hear from parents who have started living naturally later in their lives that it has been extremely hard to transition their children into eating healthy. I know you started yours early on with eating healthy, but do you have any tips or encouragement for those mommas?

A: Wow, this is tough. I am so thankful that we are able to transition before they even started eating food. They will literally eat anything I put before them - always have. But that is certainly not possible for every family, especially for those who are transitioning with older kids.

I wonder if a large victory would be won when the parents don’t bring home unhealthy foods. This may become more difficult once the kids can get to the store on their own, but prior to that - with a little planning, a homemade sourdough build-your-own pizza night can be way more fun than calling for delivery. And make healthy treats for special occasions! My kiddos were potty trained on kombucha gummies - no M&Ms! - and they’re delicious after-school snacks, too!

Eating healthy doesn’t have to mean salads every night!

Q: You are the author of quite a successful blog! Any tips or encouragement for bloggers out there wanting to grow their blog? What's been your most popular post and your most favorite one to write?

Well, I think “successful” may be used loosely. :) I would encourage anyone who wants to grow their blog to be prepared to work long and hard - just like with any entrepreneurial venture. Be prepared to write three times a week, 52 weeks a year on the topics that fit within your blog. Find some good networks, go to some conferences, invest your own money in the start-up. Many bloggers say they fought uphill for the first couple of years before they started seeing measurable growth and income.

The current battle I face is to not let it consume my family-time. As I’ve mentioned before, I work while my kids are not up. Which means I cram. But every time my phone blinks or a new post idea pops into my head or I remember that the lighting is good and I should go take those pictures of that recipe…it eats into my time with my family. While I adore my readers, my first calling is to serve my family. I work hard at remembering this every day.

It is *hard* work. But it’s rewarding. So rewarding.

Thank you Jennifer for your lovely post! Be sure to check out her beautiful website and all of her yummy recipes! :) 
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