Third trimester; the highs and lows

I can’t believe I’m at the last stretch of this pregnancy, feels like only yesterday I found out I was pregnant; it’s surreal and super crazy and I can’t believe that we get to meet our little baby soon. Ugh, I am going to take care of a little monster/stranger soon (terms of endearment, promise!). There are so many thoughts going a million miles and hour through my mind lately and it is quite overwhelming but I am sure that once the birth happens and the baby is here, it will all settle down and the pieces of the puzzle will fit right in. I feel quite different from the start of the pregnancy; I was quite sour and bitchy about it…and I almost felt like perhaps it was a burden, but as the months went by and my “bond” grew stronger with the little human inside me, I learned that this baby truly is a blessing and that I was saved from doing stupid shit in the future. I am not quite sure if I am ready to be a mom yet, but I know that I will do my best to be a good and supportive mother; I am bound to make mistakes and learn new things along the way, by I am ready for what’s to come…or at least I think I am. I figured that I would take it day by day and just roll with it. As long as I have my partner in crime with me (aka le husband), then I should be fine. The third trimester quickly crept on me and although it is mostly good so far, there a little few ouches here and there. In today’s post I am sharing with you a little update of this journey so far.

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Pelvic & Back pains

I don’t really mind them, I get along just fine but these pains do become more intense as you get closer and closer to your due date. Baby becomes heavy and muscles start to loosen up and some this creates more pressure on the body…I usually manage this pain by either living through it and not thinking about it or simply by stretching and usually that helps me. If I feel the need to do a bubble/Epsom salt bath, then I do so, but it is honestly super rare because like I said, my tolerance to pain is quite high and this to me feels like a regular Tuesday. So fret not ladies, you can do this!!! The pain will eventually fade and not focusing on it makes it much more tolerable.

Braxton Hicks

I have spoken about feeling the contractions lightly in the second trimester update but ohhhh they get much more intense are you get closer and closer to you due date… I am now at 35 weeks and I sometimes feel like I might have the baby soon! Haha! Not but for real, they are a little uncomfortable but nothing too drastic. I try to relax and let them pass and voila, life is set, I go back to doing what I am usually doing.

Dry skin

This one is probably the worst for me, I already hate the feeling of being dry and it seems like my belly is getting worst and worst and itchier and itchier; I despise this feeling and so I lather on cream almost 4 times a day now. I don’t use a specific pregnancy cream, because I figured any cream works…and long as it is hydrating and not filled with yucky chemicals. I am sticking to coconut milk infused cream at the moment and it is keeping me quite content and itch-free.

Heartburn

I am still undecided whether the dry skin part or the heartburn bother me the most…I would say they’re probably equal at this point. I mean, okay, maybe heartburn is the worst…ugh, I try as much as possible to avoid spicy food, but even at that sometimes eating something just a tad it too saucy will give you lava lungs till you take Tums. Holllly!! So unpleasant; pregnancy hormones relax the valve between the stomach and the oesophagus…then acid reflux happens…then heartburn happens.

Cankles & swelling

This part of the pregnancy is quite painful, especially if you’re petit like me, because the weight get real and the load puts a lot of pressure on your ankles and so they hurt non-stop. Sometimes, even when I am sitting my ankles throb and I find it quite difficult to fit in any shoe at the moment and I am trying really really hard not to wear ugly flip-flops! I just can’t so this fashion faux-pas…so i try to stay hydrated, walk a lot but also rest a lot and put my feet up. So far, the pain is manageable but sometimes I need a little massage to feel better. Again, not much left, so I try to bear with.

Like I said, third trimester wasn’t so bad for me; still very bearable and still much better than the first trimester. When I was younger, I was quite conceited and very concerned about my body and I always made sure to be active and healthy. As years went by, I cared less about my body and more about my mental health. However, now, seeing all these changes happening to my body and how I might not be the same as I was before I was pregnant…it honestly doesn’t bother me anymore. I feel like knowing that you are harbouring a little soul inside you makes you realize that nothing else matters as long as the child is healthy and that the changes that happen to your body are actually miracles. It’s so funny how this mental transformation happened in only a few months but I am very proud of becoming the way I am now, because it takes a lot of courage to go through pregnancy and I salute all the women who go bravely thought it time and time again. Hats off to you ladies!

Gestational Diabetes; the deets!

Getting into this pregnancy, I didn’t know what exactly needed to go down…having been followed by different doctors is a little confusing and since the majority of my pregnancy was spent in the Middle East, I was unclear about a lot of the complications and issues that could potentially happen during last trimester. Although I had done the glucose/diabetes test in Jericho and ended up receiving very high test results…I didn’t take it too seriously because I thought maybe it was just a mistake. Redoing the test was a must when I met up with my midwife here; I ended up doing the 3 hours glucose tolerance test and I wasn’t that pleasant. Basically this test is to be done with a 8 hours fast and once you get to your appointment, they take a blood sample the second you arrive and they then give you a glucose orange (super gross) solution to drink and make you wait for 1 hour. Then they take another blood sample and let you wait another hour and then for the last time, take another blood sample. Unfortunately, I ended up having horrible results and had high glucose level at all 3 blood draws, which sucks ass! That is called gestational diabetes and I still didn’t take it seriously until my midwife explained to me how serious and dangerous it could be for me and my baby if not taken care of immediately.

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Basically gestational diabetes is when pregnant women end up having type 2 diabetes; the pancreas becomes a little dysfunctional and doesn’t process sugar well. This means the excess sugar you have goes through the placenta and directly to the baby. What is important to note is that if not taken care of, the excess sugar will make your baby overweight which will then lead to complications in delivery. Babies born to mothers with poorly treated gestational diabetes are at increased risk of being too large, having low blood sugar after birth, and jaundice. And to the most extreme, if diabetes is untreated, it can result in a stillbirth.

I then didn’t have too much choice but work on keeping my glucose level stable for the next 3 months. I am now followed by a nutritionist, a doctor and my midwife; seems a bit extreme, I know! I feel a little bit overwhelmed with the whole process but I am getting the hang of it, now that I am in it. I basically now carry a glucose monitor around and I have to check my sugar levels at least 5 times a day (before and after meals). Since I am not too much of a sweet tooth anyway, my nutritionist didn’t force me to extremely change my diet but rather to add more fibre and protein; which isn’t too complicated anyway.

It’s been a week now since I started this checking process and I am getting the hang of it. It’s not as bad as I thought and honestly anyone can get the hang of it too. You just have to be patient and it’s not about cutting every sweet thing off, it’s about balance. Everything in life is about balance.

Gestational diabetes/pregnancy diabetes is not like regular diabetes, results are a bit different because we have to be extra vigilant about the intake. Our levels should be less than 5.3 before food and less than 7.8 after food. My high glucose level is mostly related to stress…but also when I consume liquid sugars, which I wasn’t aware of. Drinking milk is one of the main reasons I end up with high results. My dietician explained to me that it’s okay to drink milk, but to do it in small quantities at a time. The same goes for anything sweet; such as dates or cake or whatever, it is important to try to avoid sweets, but if I have urges, I can eat them in controlled quantities.

Along with watching what I eat, my doctor and dietician both recommended that I work out at least 30 minutes or more daily. Since I lose my balance easily these days, due to my huge belly, I choose to walk and I try to 10 000 steps daily. So far, so good and I feel like it gives me more energy to be active. On days where my glucose levels are high, I feel it in my body and my energy; I feel disgusting and super lethargic…my body is achy and weak. So for the sake of being more active and happy, I choose to just keep up with this new routine.

With the help that I am getting, I feel less overwhelmed and I feel like this is not major anymore and that I can get through it. I think once you receive the help necessary, you automatically feel safe and content. The team I am with is super professional and very informative and what I love it that they take the time to answer my questions and put me at ease. So if you’re pregnant and suffer from gestational diabetes, you can do it!

 

Fasting Ramadan while pregnant.

I am pretty sure most of you know that this month is Ramadan and for us Muslims it’s a month where we put aside our demons and flaws and try to repent to cleanse our systems and souls of all the negativity. It is also a month where it is important to truly experience the life of the less fortunate. I actually love this month and remember being excited about since I was 5 or 6. I remember asking my mom to do it but she wouldn’t allow me because I was still too little. Yet, she let me try it for a couple of hours. Basically, you fast from sunrise to sunset and go on about your day but still manage to find the time to pray and read Quran. Islam is such a beautiful religion, it teaches us patience, virtue and compassion. I really try, whether it is Ramadan or not, to go by those teachings. In our world, it is quite hard to walk down the path of kindness because of all the bad shit we see around us, but it is the best way. Being evil, that doesn’t need work, it just comes to us so naturally I find; which sucks, especially when someone really hurts you. Revenge is usually our first instinct. Unfortunately though, there are those extremists that start spreading the religion in a bad way, which happens with any religion really. I don’t find that you need to go around town and spread your beliefs on anyone, practice it for yourself in your heart. For me, religion is about your relationship with yourself and God and basically how you decide to treat others. It’s not about how many times you go to the mosque to pray, it’s about having a pure and kind heart. So, sometimes, when I accumulate so much negativity in my core, I find that Ramadan is a good way for me to let that go and regain focus on the beauty of humanity and life itself.

With that aside, as y’all have seen, I am now 24 weeks pregnant and I decided, with the clearance of my doctor of course to take on Ramadan and fast as much as I could. I gave myself a day or two to see how I feel but thankfully, it has been wonderful. I am super thankful that I have the current energy to fast and that makes me feel so proud. Here in Jericho, we fast about 15 hours (maybe 16) and this is how I decided to keep myself healthy throughout this Holy month.

Suhor

Suhor is the time you take before sunrise to eat something sustainable to get your through your day. It’s the meal where you should get most of nutrients to stock up on energy. I like to eat light yet healthy and I make sure to add as many vitamins as possible since I am preggo. I opted to go for avocados on toast with a side bowl of oats filled with fruits and nuts with a dash of maple syrup. For extra energy, I sometimes eat 3 dates. With that of course, I drink 2 cups of water. So far, this little meal has given my battery the necessary energy to keep rolling through my day. Since I get tired a little easier now (preggo problems), I try to take it easy during the day. I do the basics at home, like the cleaning and washing, but I don’t run marathons, you know what I mean? It’s been a week now since Ramadan started and I can safely say that so far so good. Haven’t had real issues or complaints; on the contrary, I feel like I am more active.

Iftar

This is the meal you eat to break your fast and it basically happens once the sun sets. People tend to go ham and eat loads of food all at once, but since I want to avoid vomiting and stuff (which happened only once since I started fasting), I eat pretty slows and start with a warm soup and a basic green salad. Then take a little break and end up eating whatever there is that day. Since my in laws are receiving everyone this Ramadan, I don’t cook and we just end up going to their house every day to do iftar. I don’t like to feel bloated or heavy, so I eat little just to keep myself vertical until I have time to have a little snack a few hours later. So for my snack, I wait about 3 hours after breaking my fast and then just end up having a plain cup of tea with a small little chocolate cake (caffeine I know, indulgent I know, but it’s so yum!) and then take my prenatal vitamins. In the meantime, between those hours I try to drink plenty of water to keep my body hydrated and cool. It has been very hot around here lately and so water is vital for me since I dry up pretty fast.

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So this is my Ramadan update, I wanted to write those blog because I was looking for some to read up on to know what other Muslim women experienced but couldn’t find any. So I figured, this could be helpful to some and sharing my story seems pretty easy. Now I know everyone is different and our reactions our different and so before you try fasting long hours, I suggest you talk to your doctor first to make sure that baby’s health is good. I of course don’t want to harm my child and so if at any point I feel like I can’t do it anymore, I will stop, but for now, this works for me and if you want to try it for a day or two first, do so at your own convenience. But remember to always eat healthy and stay hydrated!

Second Trimester Update

It’s kind of true when they say that the second trimester is like the honeymoon phase of the pregnancy. I feel like once I hit the fifth month of my pregnancy, I feel more energetic and happy; I want to keep moving and working which, unfortunately, leads me to often forget that I am pregnant. There were many times where I suddenly hit my bump because I forgot it was there to start with. I would say that the second trimester has been quite smooth. There were a few days were I felt lethargic and exhausted, but for the most part I was out and about killing it at life. However, there were a few little things that bugged me but not to the point where I was un-functional.

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1- Extra Dry Skin

This is honestly the biggest thing that annoyed me so far in my second trimester and continues to bug me to this day. My skin is super dry all over and it literally hurts because of how dry it is. It feels like you constantly need to slather on cream but it never seems to be enough. My skin cracks easily and ends up burning. It almost feels like I’ve got road rash most of the time. It was mild at first, but as weeks went by, it got worst and I go through tubs and tubs of cream just to relieve myself and stop itching. I would say that when you pass the 23 weeks, you start feeling the stretching of your belly and itching might seems like the best option, but don’t do that!!! You’ll end up damaging your epidermis and potentially worsening your stretch marks (if you’ve got any). I used a lavender oil blend, because I had it on hand, which worked wonderfully for me…but anything works really; as long as my skin doesn’t burn like hell.

2- Tender Breasts

This probably got worst once I hit the end of my fifth month. I was fine all through my first trimester…but as time goes by, I feel like my breasts are just huge and hot all the time; wearing a bra hurts, moving hurts and even slightly and mistakenly brushing them hurts so much. I try to stay away from bras when indoors…but it’s bearable. It’s not a big deal, but it’s there, s don’t feel like it’s weird or alarming, it’s part of the process; your breasts are preparing for milk.

3-Heartburn

That is probably the worst one for me! You want to eat naughty or spicy things sometimes, but you end up suffering the consequences. You gotta live with it, what can I say? Or maybe just take Tums? Whenever I east something slightly spicy or overly seasoned, I go through heartburns automatically. My solution is just go with Milk or eat plain yogurt. I don’t want to take to many pills and so, going with this simple option is good enough and keeps me happy. It’s funny, because you don’t expect this to happen to you as such a young age…but then it happens and then you’re like WTF. Haha! Once I got the hang of it, through my trimester, I learned which foods to avoid and which foods to go with. You live and you learn I guess. Besides, suffering with heartburn is a lot more bearable for me than puking my soul away.

4-Sowllen Everything…You get Puffy

Yes, I said it, you get puffy!! Prepare yourself ladies for the cankles! You’ll instantly feel sexy once your feet swell up, it’s not even funny!!! Omg, so far, my knees and ankles are dead. The pain is real! I feel the weight and my knees are suffering, but since I know it’s temporary, I try to get by without thinking about it too much. Instead, I push myself to move more and workout because I feel relief when I do so. As for my swollen feet, I know I gotta take a break and lift them up for a couple of minutes. I feel like a cow most of the time because I can no longer reach my feet to massage them, but hubs has been wonderful and helping me with that. As your body retains more fluid and circulation gets poorer, try to avoid salty things and drink water constantly. So far, my face, thankfully isn’t swollen and here’s my crossed fingers hoping so hard not to have that happen.

5- Stomach Pains and Braxton Hicks

I would say that my stomach pain is not that constant but definitely there. There are days where I suffer with how much my stomach hurts, but if I lie down for a little bit and let it pass, I get through it easily. The pain feels weird, almost like I’ve got gastro or bad IBS episodes, but I guess it’s normal as the uterus grows and grows and everything gets pushed up. The stomach gets hard and you feel like your muscles are stretching and pulling, but you’ll get through it, I promise! As for the Braxton Hicks, I felt worried at first, because it’s like period pain and it almost feels like I’ve got contractions. But thankfully there was nothing to be alarmed about; it’s just my uterus preparing itself for labour, so then I know it’s not a big deal. If the pain was regular and the contractions felt more present, then I would freak out more…but these Braxton Hicks don’t last long and usually go away on their own after a few minutes.

6- Baby’s kicks

I wouldn’t add this as a bad “symptom” whatsoever, because, on the contrary, it’s a beautiful thing. Feeling the baby move is such a weird, inexplicable feeling!!! In the beginning of the second trimester, it feels like little flutters in your tummy, but as baby grows, you feel like kicks and punches and I have to say, this is what made me start falling in love with my baby. It feels surreal to have a life inside you but it’s a beautiful feeling, almost poetic. Hubby enjoys it as he feels the kicks; he finds it quite funny and laughs when I get bothered sometimes. Seeing his loving reaction towards our little monster is super adorable and I just want to eat him!

So, I would say, when you hit the second trimester, enjoy every moment because when you get passed that, the weight and the struggle gets real. However, I learned that if you stop counting the days and just enjoy your pregnancy day in day out, the experience gets easier. Take everything with a grain of salt and if one day you feel sick or bad, take the time to be just that and focus on your wellbeing, but don’t give up, because the next day gets better!

 

 

Pregnant and vegetarian

Yes that’s right, my pregnancy has turned me into a vegetarian mama. I was never a huge fan of meat to start with and I was a vegetarian for a couple of years when I was in college, so this really isn’t new to me but I was worried about my baby’s health. I had and still have loads of people bashing me because I cannot eat meat or poultry right now and it wasn’t a decision I made, it’s just how it ended up. And I quite often get asked if it’s because of my love for animals that I decided to turn vegetarian, um, not really! I do believe that there’s a food chain that exists and you can choose to follow suit or not…but my decision to become vegetarian was because I truly started hating the taste of animal produce. Every time I ate either meat or poultry, I ended up being either too nauseous, too sick or simply couldn’t digest it. Being in my fifth month of pregnancy, I am still worried that I am not eating enough good nutrients to give them to my baby. I searched loads of forums online to feel better about my condition but really couldn’t find anything helpful. I didn’t want to be classified as a bad mother even though the baby is not out yet! So, I spoke to my doctor who then reassured me that as long as I eat veggies and fruits that my baby will have enough nutrients to grow healthy, the only issue was my own health, because I could end up with major health issues after birth, he advised me to take extra vitamins to get my energy and health going. As long as you eat, he said, the good stuff will go directly to your baby through the placenta and he/she will grow healthy.

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Because I didn’t want to end up sick after giving birth, I forced myself to eat hearty vegetarian recipes that included a lot of proteins and vitamins like dates, sweet potatoes, avocados and nuts. Now I cannot say I am completely vegetarian as I luckily started loving fish, which I hated once upon a time.

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My cravings currently are mostly healthy food, which is so weird, because I always thought that women crave fast food or naughty treats. Although I do have the salt & vinegar chips cravings once in a while, I mostly want fresh lettuce and peaches. I don’t complain because that helps me maintain a steady energy level and keeps my health going. Plus on the good side, not that I really care, I haven’t gained that much weight up to now and so I am trying to enjoy that as much as possible because movement is easier.

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So if you’re pregnant like me and worried about not eating meat or poultry, don’t worry too much, just eat a healthy and balanced diet filled with proteins, vitamins and antioxidants to keep your blood pumping and your energy flowing. And most importantly don’t listen to other people’s judgements; you do you as long as you and your baby are healthy.

 

The pregnancy workouts edit!

Those who say that the second trimester is the honeymoon phase of the pregnancy and they are absolutely right! Since hitting the 17 weeks mark I have been feeling quite energetic and happy all over because I eat better and I don’t vomit my life away anymore. Not gonna lie, there are days where I feel like I am literally dying but most of the time I am up for everything and anything. But since I am getting a little heavier and a little wonkier and my joints hurt if I don’t move around too much, I have made it my mission to workout lightly every day for the next couple of months till the baby is out. I started with a little yoga and then transitioned to prenatal workouts. I found a couple that were interesting on YouTube but some were super intense and I feel like I do want to work out but not kill myself. Since the baby is low, I tend to have a little bit of bleeding here and there, so I don’t want to push myself to the point where something, God forbid, goes bad. It’s just simple 20 to 30 minutes workouts to get the blood pumping and the joints moving and oiled. It might seem like an everyday workout is insane and intense for being pregnant but trust me, it’s the perfect amount of movement you need to get your body and core strong in preparation of the delivery.

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I have found these amazing videos from a beautiful lady called Amy from the YouTube channel Bodyfit by Amy. She’s very energetic, super lovable, interesting and pulls you into her workout routines to give you the maximum benefit with less pain and discomfort as possible. Her workouts vary depending on what you are looking for and what I like the most with Amy is that she gives you options while working out depending on your strength and your level of ease. I have been doing these routines for about a month now and I honestly cannot be happier that I have taken the chance on doing so. My joints feel better, my body is less achy and my energy is steady day in day out. I am content with the videos and workout routines and I tend to alternate between cardio, stretching, balancing and strengthening; I alternate between 3 videos and depending on the days and how I feel, I either push more or less without injuring myself. Stretching really does help with releasing the tension you start to feel in your hip area and that helps me sleep better at night. What’s great about finding Amy’s videos is that I can work out whenever I want from the comfort of my own home and plus, extra bonus, it’s absolutely free.

Here are the links to the 3 videos I currently use:

20 Prenatal Pilates Workout

25 Minute Prenatal Bodyweight Workout

30 Minute Prenatal Strength Workout

I think it is super important to move during your pregnancy because you’ll feel better and less sorry for yourself. With my own experience, I find that I am less angry with my pregnancy and I definitely enjoy it more because of the rise in my energy levels. My stamina is better and I am less breathless than before! I can go up the stairs without panting like a frantic dog. And, I deal with my emotions and hormones much better. My goal when I started training is to be skinny or the fittest in the world, it was more to keep my mental state happy and healthy. Couldn’t be happier and I suggest you looking into these videos because they’re really good!

A date with nature…take two!

I find myself spending an incredibly alarming long time on my phone and social media, perhaps because I am not as busy as I use to be or perhaps because I am simply just bored. I could easily stay on my phone for up to 7 or 8 hours a day looking through Instagram, watching Youtube or even just reading articles or blogs. Back home, I use to sit on my phone yes, but not nearly as close as I do now. It’s disgusting how much I have come depend of my phone these days and whenever I go somewhere, I have to have it with me and if I get bored with the people we’re with, I just take my phone out and start scrolling. Not to be disrespectful or anything…but I guess it’s normal for people here to do that. When I first moved here, I was shocked to see how much time people spend on their androids or iPhones. People of all ages on top of it! As early as 18 months!!! Seeing this made me realize I am damaging myself and possibly my child. Family time here is mostly phone time, each person has their phone in their hand and there you have it…that’s socializing! it’s sickening and not in the RuPaul awesome kind of way. You become obsessed and the minute you don’t have your phone in hand, you feel naked and unbalanced. I decided to step on the break and back up a little.

See, I grew up in a home where playing video games or watching TV wasn’t really a thing, we instead spent our weekends reading up books at the library and it was a time we genuinely all looked forward to! I remember reading up all the Noddy, Garfield and Baby-Sitters Club books I could get my hands on. Kinda miss those simple days. Whenever we felt super rebellious, my siblings and I used to watch ice skating for hours on Sundays, cheering up Kurt Browning. I think my sister even had a crush on him! So I thought to myself, why would I want to raise a child that juices up on social media and technology from a young age? Therefore, I have made it my mission, for hubs and I, to spend as much time as possible together outside in nature, especially on his weekend. No phones allowed! Which leads me to today’s post and I am so proud to say that we spent a good 4ish hours outside in nature soaking up some sun. It was absolutely fantastic and hubs and I felt completely re-energized and re-centered.

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We went to this town 10km north of Jericho with our lunch to have a picnic in nature. We wanted to spend a good amount of time outside, just enjoying the view and the water river/lake there. Little did we know the water was all dried up; nonetheless we had a bomb time.

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Water before it dried up a couple of years ago…

 

We didn’t really go into the city of Al-Auja; we went to the outskirts and sat close to the Bedouins, right under a tree and listen to the birds fly by and the music that was playing from other picnic-ers. I mean the place was pretty simple, but it was enough for us to sit together and enjoy each other’s company and talk about everything and anything. We giggled, we laughed, we relaxed and that to me meant everything! Nothing in the world can replace moments like this one.

I think, as humans, we get so caught up on technology and work and life’s tensions that we forget to take a moment to ourselves and connect with nature and it sucks and it’s sad because we take everything around us for granted. I mean even taking a little moment to smell flowers can change up your mood and bring up your spirits. So slow down, unwind and enjoy nature’s bounties!