Friday, October 10, 2014

SweetLeaf Sweet Drops Cola Sweetner Review


It is rare for me to drink any sort of pop (or soda for you southerners) unless we are out to eat, and even then I often opt for water. However, occasionally I do crave root beer. My husband on the other hand, absolutely loves coke! I don't like that he or I are drinking all that sugar and I know it isn't good for us!

Enter SweetLeaf Sweet Drops Sweetener! It's a liquid stevia that is all natural with zero calories and can be used in tea, coffee, smoothies, protein shakes, or any recipe.


Since we received the cola flavor, we decided to try it in sparkling mineral water. After adding the recommend 14 drops per 8 ounces of water, I fully expected it to taste nothing like a glass of coke, but I was pleasantly surprised. With stevia involved I also expected a bit of an aftertaste, but I could not taste it! So far so good. The real test would be my husband who with his love of coke, I knew would be hard to win over. However, when he tried it, he too had nothing bad to say. He felt like it tasted almost like the real thing and we both would probably add a few extra drops in just to get that real coke taste, but overall we both liked it.


Have you ever used SweetLeaf Drops? If you want to try it for yourself, make sure you visit SweetLeaf online to order more! Use the code "ColaMD" at checkout to take 30 percent off your online purchase (plus you’ll get free shipping).

Also, be sure to follow them on Facebook and Twitter to keep up to date with all things new that are happening at SweetLeaf

I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms MeetSM program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms MeetsSM blogger, I agreed to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC or the manufacturer of the product.




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Thursday, October 9, 2014

When Your Neighbor Humbles You

If you were to walk in my house today, you would see this sign proudly on display right when you walk in the door.



I wholeheartedly love it and believe it. The problem is, I don't always live it.

About a month ago, we were on a family walk and ran into one of our neighbors. We are the only family with young kids in our small neighborhood, so I happened to apologize if he heard my kids screaming or crying a lot, because let's be honest, they fight a ton. What he said next made me humiliated and then question the very core of who I am. He said, "Well sometimes I hear them, or you but it's ok, my dad ruled with a strong hand and looking back I can see it was good for me." You guys, my heart sank. While we have agreed to be peaceful, gentle parents, and we have chosen not to spank, apparently my voice has not gotten control. To the point where it still looked as if I was ruling with a heavy hand.

I wanted to come back with every excuse in the book. When you have 3 girls who are close in age, there is competition and they are whiny, they fight, and they scream. They are spirited, and passionate and I have to get control somehow.

Except yelling isn't control and I sat there unable to defend myself and blame it on my kids.

This past summer was a tough one for me. I'm honestly not sure why. I started to feel this shift in my girls with all three wanting a bit more independence and then all three making their voices heard through loud protests, screaming, fighting with me, and with each other. It wasn't a peaceful summer at our home and I felt my stress level rising. I had to get control of these kids. So I yelled because somehow in my mind, yelling is control. I threatened to spank. Sometimes I really yelled, like the one that makes your whole body shake.

Yeah it was bad.

Then that conversation happened and it was like a slap in my face. Here I was claiming to be a gentle parent, when in reality, yelling can do just as much damage to a little soul.

I'm not naïve enough to believe I will never yell again, but it did make me take a good look at myself and decide exactly what kind of mom I want to be. It also made me change some things I realized were causing the frustration in the first place.

If I yell, they will yell. I quickly realized that the calmer I am, the calmer they are. Trust me, my nature is not one of calm. I am passionate and typically that comes across in how I speak to people. But I realize that if I can talk to other adults without yelling (even when I'm frustrated), I can talk to my girls with that same calm voice.

I started emphasizing more with them. My nature as a parent is to be very matter of fact and not fuss over my children. This is great on one hand, but on the other, I realized my kids were feeling like I didn't care at all when they were expressing their frustrations, thus it was quickly escalating to screaming as they wanted my attention.

This brings me to my last point, I wasn't paying attention to them. I was either in the kitchen, doing laundry, or on my phone and all my kids were hearing from me was, "Just give me one more minute". They wanted more of my time and attention and I wasn't giving it to them. They are smart and a great way to get that attention is to cause trouble thus mom would pay attention, even if it was negative attention. Lately, I've been letting the house and laundry slide and I've instead been playing with my kids. Not just cuddling or reading a book, but actually playing. They love it and our house runs a lot more smoothly if I even just spend 10 minutes investing into what they like to do.

So we are making some changes around here. Mainly those changes come from me and it hasn't been easy. But the more I set an example for them, the more they follow that example. Perhaps next summer I can see my neighbor and hear him say how he loves hearing the laughter come from our yard.

Have you ever had to take a good look at yourself as a parent and then change? What have you done to help that change take place?



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Monday, September 15, 2014

Stitch Fix #3 {Review}

It's been such a busy last few weeks of summer and first few weeks of fall, that I have failed to post my review of my 3rd Stitch Fix and I just got my 4th a few days ago! Oops! I'll be posting my 4th review in a few days, but in the meantime, read all about my 3rd Stitch Fix.

For this Stitch Fix I made sure I was clear on my disappointment over my 2nd Stitch Fix and made sure they knew I wanted summer clothes. Also, because I have a love of summer dresses and because I had a wedding to go to of a good friend in late August, I requested a reasonably priced dress.

The clothes in this Stitch Fix were probably my favorite to date! They all looked a lot like my style and I was so impressed that my stylist followed my request of summer clothes. After promising two times now to get pictures of me in the items, I finally did so this time. However, I was fighting against low light so I apologize for how dark they are! Because I was fighting the setting sun, I completely forgot to accessorize each outfit! To me wearing the right accessories makes all the difference!





Item #1: Skies and Blue Alexa Embroidery Detailed Tank: $48


I wanted to like this shirt. In fact, I did at first. I loved the delicate embroidery, the soft material, and the look of it in general. However, when I tried it on, I wasn't impressed with the look of it. It fit me wrong and was too flowy, thus creating a "is she or isn't she pregnant look" and in case you are wondering, I'm not and I don't really want that, so this was a pass.

Item #2: Collective Concepts Clayton  Pleat Detail V-Neck Blouse: $58


I loved the color of this one right from the start! I love pink and this looked so much like me. My only hesitation was how plain it was considering the price. Ultimately, even though I liked the look of it on me, I decided to pass because of that.

Item #3: Pixley Indianan Floral Print Mixed Material Tee: $44


When I first pulled this out of the box, I was very hesitant to want to like it. While I love gray, I'm not a fan of the print on the back. However, when I put it on, I loved it! Once again, the price was the determining factor. While I almost kept this one, I couldn't justify keeping a shirt for that much money. I'm finding out with Stitch Fix that while I like many of the clothes, I am far too frugal to spend that much for cute clothes. Sigh...

Item #4: 41Hawthorn Abrianna Lightweight Knit Cardigan: $28


I was SO excited when I pulled this one out of the box! For whatever reason, I'm really into cardigans lately, and this one fit my personality perfectly with both how light weight it was and the color. I could easily style it over a tank, a shirt, or a dress. This one was an absolute keep!

Item#5: Honey Belle Sifaya Chevron Print Dress: $48

Picture from the wedding as my individual picture in this dress was really dark!

When I saw this one in the box, I let out a little squeal! It was love at first sight. I don't own anything chevron and always have wanted to, but could never seem to find something that I love in the print. As I pulled this one out I was praying for it to fit. When I put it on, I was so happy, it fit perfectly! The price was absolutely great considering it is a dress. This was without a doubt a keeper. I've already worn it to the wedding I wanted to wear it to and received tons of compliments.

Overall, I kept 2 out of my 5 items and the total came to $13 thanks to some credits from friends signing up under me. Who can beat spending $13 for two great items? Thanks to this Stitch Fix I decided to give a 4th box a try and I'll be posting my review of that one in a few days.

Haven't joined Stitch Fix yet and curious as to what it is? Stitch Fix is a style service where a personal shopper picks out 5 items for you, you keep what you like and send the rest back in a postage paid envelope. You do pay a $20 styling fee, but it is applied towards your final order. If you haven't joined yet, I'd love to have you sign up under me here, and feel free to leave a link or share with me your thoughts on Stitch Fix!

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

On Your First Day Of Second Grade


Hi sweetie!  Today is your first day of second grade! For the first time ever, you won't be at home with me. Instead, you will drive to school with daddy every day and ride the school bus home.

In our seven years of parenting, we have never had to make a more difficult decision than this! We always knew we would take homeschooling on a year to year basis. Each year, we would talk and pray about it, but ultimately decide to homeschool you. This year, we knew in our hearts it was time to do something different. You need to spread your wings a bit, and the girls (especially Meridian) need some time alone with me.

This morning I had to wake you up as you were still sleeping in your bed. I was tempted to not do it. You looked so peaceful and I was reminded of watching you sleep as a baby. You were nervously excited for your first day and you could barely eat more than a few bites of your breakfast. You picked out your first day of school dress and decided that if I couldn't braid your hair (I'm not the best at that), that you wanted it in a ponytail. We drove to school with you talking the whole way about what it would be like. When we arrived, I think you and I were both a little shocked at the reality that was to come. You turned and gave me the biggest hug and kiss when we got to your classroom, and I barely held it together as I said goodbye at your classroom door.


You've been in school a little over an hour now and here I sit at home with a box of kleenex surrounding me with your sisters playing nicely downstairs. It's probably not the best time to write this as I'm a complete mess. I miss you that much! I cried almost the whole way home, thinking how quiet the car ride was without all your questions and your sweet laughter as you giggle at something you read in a book. I cried as I pulled in the driveway and realized you won't be able to get the mail anymore unless it's a Saturday. I'll miss taking you to story time, to the park, and to the zoo. I'll miss hearing you play with your sisters, watching you swim in the pool, and run with careless abandon across the lawn.

It will be so different without you. It already is! However, I know I will cherish the time I do have with you so much more.

I pray that your year in school is amazing!  That your eager mind will grow in knowledge. That you will never be afraid to be smart and ask the thousand questions that are constantly running through your head. That you will treat others with kindness always, no matter what. That your gentle, sweet spirit, and love for others will flourish.


The girls and I have decided that we don't know what to do with ourselves today. They play a bit, and then ask for you. I try and get something done, and then get lost in my thinking wondering what you are doing right now. I told them we will start school tomorrow as I just can't today. I think today will be a day to just reflect, cry, and eagerly await for you to get off the bus.

I love you sweet girl! You are going to do so well in school! We are praying for you all day long and can't wait to see and hear about your day today and every single day to come!

Welcome to 2nd grade!

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Stitch Fix #2 {Review}

A few weeks ago I got my second Stitch Fix in the mail. You can read all about my first Stitch Fix here. I loved it and felt like the style and clothing that was chosen for me was very, well "me". While I only kept two things, I have worn those two things plenty of times already this summer and feel like it was well worth my money. I went away happy from my first Stitch Fix and eager and excited to try it again.

For my second Stitch Fix, I requested lots of summer stuff. Dresses, skirts, summer colors, and fun summery shirts, etc. It didn't matter to me as long as it screamed summer! I made it clear that I wanted summer clothes. After all, where I live summer is very short and I wanted to enjoy it with some fun outfits!



When it came, I hated it! All of it! I heavily debated posting this review, but I like to be honest in all aspects of my blog, and I had to be honest when it came to this. Stitch Fix did not listen to me and I was very disappointed that I wasted my money on it. My request of summery items seemed to fall on deaf ears. I got one short sleeve shirt and one long skirt that could be considered summer. The style itself wasn't "me" at all. In fact, I wonder if they even looked at my style profile I filled out? My Pinterest style board? I promised friends that the next time I did this review it would be with pictures of the clothes on me. However, I just couldn't do it. The clothes did not flatter my body at all!

Item #1: Kut From The Kloth Denna Skinny Jean: $78


I liked these, but umm....definitely not summer. Also, they were long and baggy! While I rarely wear skinny jeans because my body is curvy, not skinny, I am up for nice-fitting, attractive ones, just not in the summer. These were a definite no!


Item #2: Market and Spruce Twain Twisted Neckline Slub Knit Shirt: $48


White, white, and more white with a very oddly placed line down the middle. This did nothing on my curvy frame. Instead, it made me look rather large and frumpy. Also, it was pretty thin and not the greatest quality. Again, long sleeve doesn't exactly scream summer either. Sigh...no!

Item #3: Pomelo Blake Ruched V-Neck Knit Shirt: $48


Yay! Summer! I was happy to see a summer shirt in my box but not so happy that for a very plain shirt, it cost so much money. I love ruched shirts, but this was again not attractive on my frame and left me looking more pregnant than not. No one wants that, so again this was a no.

Item #4: Pixley Monty Scarf Print Kimono Cardigan: $58


Being completely honest, I pulled this one out and knew from first glance that it wasn't me. I don't think things that hang on me look good. I tend to like more fitted looks and while I liked the colors of this, it ended up looking like a tent on me. No good!

Item #5: Papermoon Amilea Abstract Tie-Dye Mixed Print Maxi Skirt: $58


 
This was the only item I was tempted to keep. I liked it and it felt very comfortable on me. I love the look of maxi skirts and I hope at some point, I get one in my Stitch Fix that will work for me. So why didn't I keep this one? It went up to my boobs and that was folded over! It just wasn't practical for me to keep a $58 skirt that didn't fit right.

While I know I technically shouldn't post a review on something I didn't like, I want to be honest to you my readers and to Stitch Fix in the hopes that they will listen and change in the future. It's not the first $20 I've wasted in my life and I'm sure it won't be my last. So will I do another Stitch Fix? Yes, I am trying another one in a few days. I debated for a bit if I wanted to do so, but decided I was curious to know if they would listen to me and actually look at my profile this next time and get it right. I'll for sure be letting you, as my readers, know what I think.

I still think Stitch Fix is a good deal! I still find it fun to have a stylist shop for me and receive those pieces in the mail rather than dragging my three girls with me to the store in the hopes of finding at least one cute outfit. Do I think it is worth it to try? Yes! If you aren't already familiar with Stitch Fix, you are going to want to pay attention because for only $20 you have a stylist shop for you, ship 5 items to your door, and you keep & pay for the items you want and return the rest. Don't like what you bought? Make sure you are specific on why you didn't like it. Didn't fit right, don't like the color, the style, etc. Sign up here  to get started today!

I'm curious about you: If you've done a Stitch Fix have you liked all of yours? Do you feel as if your stylist has listened to you? Have you ever returned your whole box?
 

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Friday, August 8, 2014

Summer Beach Birthday Party


Each year I go WAY out for the girls' birthday party! I've done a rainbow party, A Very Hungry Caterpillar party, and a Chicka Chicka Boom Boom party. Last year, after asking the girls their thoughts on it, we decided not to have a party. They were totally fine with it, but towards the end of the summer they kept asking us when they were going to have a birthday party. Sigh....total fail on our part.


So, this year I was back to thinking and planning a party. We have large families so we always plan for about 50 people so you can see why it's a big thing for me to plan out. I deep clean my house, get the garden work done, and think through the logistics of a party. Normally I'm really into it, but this year I was struggling to figure out a theme and to get in the spirit of the party. I asked the girls and it changed daily: beach party, Frozen, polka dots, Frozen (again), etc. This past Christmas they had received a pool from us as their main Christmas gift. So after doing some Pinterest searching, I suggested to them a possibility of a beach party and they could swim with their cousins, aunts/uncles and just enjoy the time outside.



My goal with this party was to cut back a bit on spending compared to past birthdays. Again, I go all out so this was a bit hard. The first thing I did was decide to send beach balls in the mail as the official invite. That was the plan at least until the post office said they had no idea how to mail them like that. So, instead I put them in an envelope with writing on the inside flap of the envelope that said "Inflate for the date". :) 


Thankfully for us, the weather ended up being perfect, and we got the pool set up and filled about a week before the party, which gave us just enough time to have that water warm up!


I hit up the Dollar Store in order to look for decorations. Thankfully they had a great amount of decorations that fit the beach theme! Yay!!

On the day of the party, I just kept thinking of more things to do! All fairly simple and easy to do so if you are planning a beach party, know that I would say this is the most simple party we have ever done! Also, relatively cheap!


I was not originally planning on using this lemonade stand that Chris made last year for our family pictures. However, at the last minute, I decided to stick this in the garage as a fun addition to our beach theme and hang beach balls from it (we also hung beach balls from the ceiling of our garage). The girls loved it and were teasing everyone that came through the line that they needed 25 cents for lemonade!





The table decorations were by far the easiest! I got the table cloths at the dollar store, used brown sugar as my sand, and bought the little sand buckets/rakes/shovels for a great deal on Amazon! We filled our little buckets with a combination of peanuts, raisins, and M & M's, as a treat for everyone while they were sitting around and talking.




We kept it simple with the food! BBQ beef sandwiches, lots of fresh fruit, and a veggie tray (in the shape of a beach ball).


We closed out the party with our beach ball/sand/flip flop cupcakes! These were SO good and were made by two of my local friends who have started a little bakery. The best was that they were able to make the girls and myself gluten free versions of the cupcakes!






At the end of the day, spending time with some of our family and closest friends was so worth the hassle of planning a party. Also, the girls had an absolute blast and are already planning next year's party. The theme? Frozen....even though I try to tell them it will be an "old" movie by then, they insist that will be what the party is all about. We will see! :)




Do you do birthday parties? Family ones? Friend ones? Do you stick with a theme?


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