Saturday, March 26, 2016

GaiaKids Bronchial Wellness Review

Recently we were given some GaiaKids Bronchial Wellness for kids from Moms Meet. It came to us in the middle of winter, which was a perfect time to get it being it is a natural support for children's throat and bronchial health.

 GaiaKids Bronchial Wellness for kids provides herbal support for the respiratory system and promotes healthy mucous membranes.* It is recommended for ages 2 to 15, has a great taste that comes from organic honey, lemon, and flavorful essential oils.

GaiaKids are formulated by pediatric natropath, Dr. Mary Bove and have a line of 10 alcohol-free herbal formulas that deliver herbal support with kid friendly tastes. Part of what I loved about GaiaKids, is that Gaia uses only organic methods on their farms, and that same organic approach continues through manufacturing. Part of their seed-to-shelf commitment is the industry's only tracibility platform, MeetYourHerbs. This means that each of their products are 100% traceable. Each product has an ID# that traces every herb in the product down to the source and quality of testing, so you can rest assured that your product is pure and safe.

Our personal experience with GaiaKids Bronchial Wellness was a positive one! We decided to use it as a way to support the girls' bodies throughout the winter by using as a means of keeping a healthy immune system. I was worried they wouldn't care for the taste of it, but found they really didn't mind and actually looked forward to getting it each day.  Because I make homemade elderberry syrup and we take lots of natural supplements on top of eating a very healthy diet, I probably would not regularly buy this for the price of $19.99 for 3 oz., but I also wouldn't mind having it on hand just in case.

If you would like to a free sample of Bronchial Wellness for kids and a $2 off GaiaKids Coupon, go directly to this link:

Be sure to connect with their Facebook and Instagram pages for more information!

I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms Meet Program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet blogger, I agree to use the 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 this product.

*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Saying Goodbye to 2015

2015 was hard. There is just no way around that for me.

Not even a month into the new year, we unexpectedly lost our daughter's birthmom. To say my life changed is an understatement. Sometimes I can hardly believe that she really is gone. Other times, I feel it to my very core that she is no longer here.

Her death lead to months of depression and heartache for me. A part of me is beyond thankful that 2015 is coming to a close and that we get a fresh start tomorrow. The other part of me is devastated. 2015 is the last year she was alive and what if I'm not ready to say goodbye to her?

Looking back at 2015 I have this peace when I think about the life phrase God gave me for the year.

 "He will quiet you with His love".

Little did I know when I wrote that how much I would have to be still and quieted by His love. This year has been one of the most challenging ones for me and I have had to rely on God more than almost any other year. I'm so thankful for His love that has quieted me in times of unrest.

While I haven't shared my phrase for 2016 yet and I'm not 100% positive I will, I did want to share one thing with you that I feel led to share.

Shortly after Xiomara's birthmama passed away, I read this amazing article called While They Can Still Hear (The Case For Living Eulogies). Here is what I wrote on Facebook when I shared it:

"Maybe because I am a words of affirmation person, this speaks directly to my heart. Or perhaps it is because I have lost people in my life way too sudden, way too young. Or else it is because I realize my time on earth is short and I want to use the remaining time I have to uplift people in love. Whatever it is, this is SO good. 'I think we should give people living eulogies; that we should speak lavish, unashamed words of love and praise, not about them, but to them.'"

I've never been the type of person to do New Year's Resolutions, mainly because most times I fail at them and then feel guilty. But, this one hit home with me and so I spent 2015 telling those I love why I love them. Most of the time it was in the form of a social media post because I wanted other people to know what I saw in someone else.

Do you realize how rare it is for people to hear words of affirmation spoken to them these days? We live in a day in which people rarely take the time to truly stop and listen to your answer to "how are you?" and most people have no idea the pain or elation that is just below the smile that is plastered onto someone's face. Can I encourage you to read the above article and then spend 2016 incorporating your words of love to others? If you are like me and don't do New Year's Resolutions, do this one. Take 5 minutes to have a conversation with someone and tell them how much you love them. If you are like me, and words come better from your fingers than your voice, take 5 minutes to type up how much they mean to you.

I have now lost several people too soon without getting to tell them exactly what I saw in them and how much I loved them, and I would give anything to go back in time so they know exactly how much I love them. I am determined to never let someone close to me pass away without knowing they were loved. I will be living this out in 2016, hopefully even more than I did in 2015.

So Happy New Year friends! May you fully love those around you and cherish each moment you are given. I leave you with these words from the above article.

"Friend, there are people around you who need to see the full contents of your heart, now. They deserve the blessing of  knowing that they matter, today."

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Sunday, December 6, 2015

ASPCA Kids: Rescue Readers Review

One of our absolute favorite things around our house is books. It seems like we always have a bookshelf overflowing with books, in almost every room, and the girls are always requesting us to get more. I would gladly have rooms full of books as I believe reading is a gift.

When Moms Meet gave me the opportunity to review the ASPCA Kids: Rescue Readers found here, I jumped on it because I just knew these would be books that my kids would love. These books combine two things they love: reading and animals.

I wasn't wrong! When these came in the mail, my kids went crazy wondering which book they could claim as theirs. There was a chapter book for Zoelle, and several learning to read books (Level 2) for Meridian and Xiomara. There were also a few other style books that I'm going to kind of vaguely mention here as I believe they will be given as Christmas gifts (shhhh).

Studio Fun, in partnership with the ASPCA (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), has published a children's book series, ASPCA kids: Rescue Readers. Each story is inspired by a real-life animal rescue story from the pet's point of view and includes facts and photographs of the actual pet that inspired the story. This particular part was our favorite part, as it made us relate to the story more.

The importance of care, protection, and love of animals is incorporated into each tale with a focus on the joyous outcome. I love that 4-5% of the purchase price of every book goes directly to the ASPCA to help continue its mission. This means they support what they are writing about!

If you are looking for some good reading books to give as gifts this Christmas, I highly suggest checking these books out. Make sure you visit their Facebook page to learn more.

I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms Meet program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet blogger, I agree 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 this product.

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Monday, September 28, 2015

Good Intentions {Summer Recap}

In my mind I planned a whole blog post on how I had good intentions on keeping up this blog over the summer, and then I realized that is a complete lie. In fact, I had one intention this past summer: to enjoy it. And enjoy it I did. My tan skin is a testament to the fact that I spent the good majority of it outside either playing with my kids, reading a good book, or watching my kids play. I honestly don't think I've enjoyed a summer like I have this one since I was a kid.

When people ask what we did this summer, I honestly don't know how to respond, because we didn't do much. We went on one camping trip. We intended on going on more, but one is all that worked out. We hit up the local swimming pool, we went to our county fair, we even made it to the State Fair, and we ended up doing a few more of our regular summer activities. Otherwise, we hardly left home, instead choosing to spend the summer in our Intex Swimming Pool, riding bike, hiking through the woods, and listening to as much music as possible. I let my house go a bit, I let the laundry pile up, and it was wonderful. It was probably the most stress free I have ever been since I had kids, and I loved every minute of it. Remember last summer how my neighbor mentioned he could hear me yelling? I didn't want a repeat of that this summer, so I intentionally chose to keep my summer as stress free as possible and didn't put requirements on myself or the kids. I wanted to read a lot this summer, and so I did. I wanted to introduce the girls to various musicians, and so we did. I wanted to sit and soak up the sun, so we did. I took them on walks through the woods, down our road, and we sat outside marveling about how lucky we are to live here. I may have yelled a time or two, but I know that if I ran into my neighbor again, he would probably say he heard laughter this summer. Which is exactly what I wanted it to be.

Intentions....they can put a lot of pressure on us, and this summer I chose to be wise with my intentions and expectations. Did stuff get put aside until later because of it? Absolutely! This winter, I'm going to have my work cut out for me organizing our basement and our toy room (yikes). But winter is a good time for it, because it's cold and dark outside. Did my house sometimes go weeks without cleaning? Yep, but it's still standing and I even managed to clean it yesterday and it was just fine.

Interestingly enough I managed to get through summer almost completely on my own. Chris' business has picked up enough to the point of him working not only all day, but also late into the evening. This is wonderful for us financially, but a big change on our family with the absence of Chris. Thankfully he is finding some great employees to take over the evening work, but for the majority of this summer it has been Chris working all day into the evening and me figuring out how to parent alone. I was, and in many ways, still am exhausted. Which is why I am so glad I didn't force myself to do more this summer, but instead just chose to enjoy it.

So like always, our summer flew by and before we knew it fall was here. If I could have summer all year long I would. I love warm weather, I love the sun, and I love the stress free life of just enjoying summer. I'm always sad when summer comes to a close, but this summer I can say I enjoyed it fully!

How was your summer? Have you gotten into the swing of fall yet?

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Sunday, August 9, 2015

On Our 12th Anniversary {A Love Letter to My Husband}

In the words of one of your favorite singers, Ed Sheeran

"Loving can hurt, loving can hurt sometimes"

In 12 years, we have said and done things that have hurt. Sometimes even hurt deeply. That first year of marriage that we thought we never would survive. We threw insults and jabs at each other as if they didn't matter, yet they did, they hurt deeply. The year we had our first baby and realized that if we were going to make it, we had to work as a team. I drove away from you once with our baby safely tucked into her carseat. I was determined that I just couldn't work at our marriage anymore, it hurt too much to love deeply and work so hard and not have it be perfect. That time I was a jerk and hurt you so much I truly wasn't sure our marriage was going to survive.

Yes, I would say Ed is correct that loving can hurt.

"When it gets hard, you know it can get hard sometimes"

Every time I hear that lyric, I tear up. When you are standing in the front of a church staring into each other's eyes with the most love you think you will ever have for each other, it is easy to think that life will never get hard.

Until it does.

No one tells you the struggles you will have. There have been times we truly were not sure how we were going to pay that next bill that was due, or even if we would have enough food to put on the table. No one sits down and explains to you what it means to own your own business, and the sacrifices it will take to make that business succeed. No one tells you about that lost baby that felt like every dream inside you was dying. No one would tell you that for 7 months straight you would sink down into a deep depression and cry everyday for your daughter's loss that is just too great.

"Loving can heal. Loving can mend your soul."

Yet there you were, and still are, with your arms wrapped tightly around me just letting me grieve. Through the tears, the depression, and the anger you have been here. Mending a bit of my broken soul each day. Your love for me has healed so much of my broken.

"I swear it will get easier."

We've seen life get hard and easier throughout our 12 years. It is like the ebb and flow of the ocean. I have no doubt the days ahead will be hard, but 12 years in, I know that the easier will follow the hard.

"And if you hurt me that's ok, baby, only words bleed"

How I have hurt you these past years, and I am sure your heart has bled, just as mine has when you have hurt me, but....

"And I won't ever let you go"

No matter what, neither of us is willing to let the other go. When I think of this lyric, I think of hanging on to a board in the ocean, refusing to let go even as you are pulled into the strong current, because when you let go of the other, you drown. Drowning isn't an option.

"Inside the necklace you got when you were 16, next to your heartbeat where I should be."

For my 18th birthday, you got me a Kmart special on a tanzanite and diamond heart necklace, because you knew how much I loved tanzanite. That cheap little necklace has sat next to my heart off and on since that day. I wore it on our wedding day because even though it isn't worth a thing to anyone else, it means something to me knowing that you bought it when you had not a dime to your name.

"We keep this love in this photograph. We made these memories for ourselves. Where our eyes are never closing, our hearts were never broken, times forever frozen still."

12 years Christer. 12 years of photographs that show the memories and love we have for each other. Time and love frozen still in hundreds of photographs taken throughout the years. Photographs don't show the hard times, the are we going to make it times, the heartbreak of loss, or the anger of yesterdays gone by.

But those photographs show love. The love of two broken people who joined together on a warm August day and became one. 12 years later, we have three beautiful daughters who are here because of our love for each other. We have a little home that is still filled with hopes and dreams, they just keep changing through years. We have each other.

Thank you for always loving me. For never leaving me 11 years ago like you maybe should have, or any of the other times since. For proving to me my life phrase of "What is done in love, is done well."

I love you, Christer! Happy 12th Anniversary!

*Words in italics are the words to Ed Sheeran's song Photograph, which you can listen to here.

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Monday, July 6, 2015

On Your 5th Birthday (A Letter to Xiomara)

Happy 5th birthday to our always smiling, compassionate, gymnastics loving, full of life, happy, animal loving, and still my baby girl Xiomara Marie.

5. I am not handling 5 well at all darling! I keep staring at this picture thinking there is no way you are that grown up! What happened to my baby?!? Meanwhile, you have been counting down this day for weeks. Planning it out in your mind with a thousand different things you want to do today. That describes your personality so well! Just a desire to live your life to the fullest in all you do. But I just can't wrap my head around the fact that you are now one whole hand. How is it that the teeny tiny baby we met on a hot day in Georgia is now this vivacious little girl who captures the hearts of all around her?

This year has been a growing year, both physically and emotionally. Not only have you gotten taller, but you have grown up emotionally. You match Meridian in height now, and because you are so close in age to you sister, you like to do everything she does. Last year you felt like so much of a baby, but this year you grew up before our very eyes. You talk like a big girl now, you are completely out of diapers during the day (we still are working on those nights), you sit for school like a big girl. You also proudly just lost your first tooth! Part of me looks at you and wishes I could have my baby back, but the other part of me is so proud of the big girl you have become. I am thankful that you still love to snuggle with your mama and even though I try so hard to get you to stop sucking your thumb, that thumb reminds me you are still little.

This past year you got to do preschool in homeschool with mama. You were so proud of yourself for sitting down at the table each day and doing your school work. I'll never forget how excited you were when you figured out you could write your whole name by yourself. School was slow going, but I remind myself you are only in preschool. We are not in a rush and being that you are a summer birthday, you will be in preschool once again next year.

At 5, yellow is your favorite color! You don't get really get dressed in the morning. Instead, you wake up and either put on a swimsuit or a dress up dress and that is all we see you in the rest of the day. You live and breathe gymnastics! You don't just walk around, but instead go around the house doing cartwheels, round-offs, and any other gymnastic move you can think of. Everyday you ask me if today is a gymnastics class day. You grab my iPad, put on a song and do gymnastics moves to the whole thing. You have so much talent in gymnastics little girl. Remember that talent comes from God, and you have an opportunity to use that talent for good. If you aren't doing gymnastics, you are outside playing with our chickens, dog, or cats. You LOVE animals and have a gentleness with them that I have never seen before. When you grow up you tell me you want to be a gymnastics person like Gabby Douglas, or you want to be a Vet and work on animals. You are a definite people person! You thrive on engaging with others. You have this amazing and unique ability to connect with others and put a smile on their face with your vibrant, joyful personality! You also have a compassionate heart for the hurting, whether it be hurt animals or hurting people, you reach out to them with your whole heart. I have seen you this past year go on adventure hikes around our yard, or play quietly by yourself with your Legos. You have quite the imagination that I've enjoyed seeing emerge this year. Your favorite food is pizza. I hope I never forget about how you make sure everyone knows about your one special curl and no one can ever cut that! It is an adorable curl!

Please note her one special curl that goes in front of her eye. She loves it!

I know this past year you have been forced to grow up faster than either of us would have liked. No 5 year old should have to face the kind of loss you have faced this past year in losing your birthmama. I'm so sorry honey. If I could take that pain from you, I would. I know and love how much you love her. She will always be special to you no matter how much time passes. I will also always remind you of the words she told me on that July day when she lovingly handed you to me, "Always love her no matter what, and please never let her forget that I love her". You are a blessed little girl Xiomara. So many people love you so much and I still feel amazed that I get to be your mama. I love you and Happy 5th Birthday sweetheart!

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Monday, June 29, 2015

Nogii Review

We are a gluten free family which is actually way easier of a lifestyle to live than most people think. The only area where I sometimes struggle is trying to find easy on-the-go snack foods. Veggies and fruits are often a staple in our house. However, sometimes when I am in a hurry, I really wish I could find an easy, healthy protein bar.

Then I found NoGii and I seriously am so impressed with them that I will for sure be buying them in the future! Created by Elisabeth Hasselback, NoGii is a line of certified gluten-free protein bars, protein powders, and paleo bars. Made with sustainably sourced, premium ingredients, NoGii bars have an ideal balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates, and do not contain any trans fat, hydrogenated oils, or high fructose corn syrup.

Moms Meet sent us a box of various flavors from Nuts About Tropical Fruit (Paleo Bar), Chocolate Mint, Nuts About Berries (Paleo Bar), Nuts About Nuts (Paleo Bar), Chocolate Peanut Butter Caramel Crisp, Whey & Quinoa Protein, and more! Our girls LOVED the Paleo Bars. I unfortunately cannot eat the Paleo bars as I am allergic to nuts, but my husband and girls said they were so good! I did try some of the other bars though and I was very impressed. In the future, I would love to see a Paleo bar without nuts (I know, probably pretty unlikely) but I would love more protein bar options without sugar that I can eat too.

To learn more about NoGii, make sure you follow their social media pages by checking out their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms Meet Program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet blogger, I agree 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 this product.

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