Sunday, August 20, 2017

Jarro-Dophilus Probiotic {Review}

I've spent the last 5 years since finding out our oldest daughter is severely gluten intolerant, learning about the importance of gut health. I've read and researched, and researched and read some more. We've tried various ways to improve our overall health, but I knew I specifically wanted to focus on gut health. I remember as a kid my mom giving me probiotics, and then somewhere along the way I got out of the habit. Gut health became important to me again once I knew I wanted to do whatever it was to help my daughter.

Probiotics became my number one way to be proactive in our health.

A month ago I was given a chance to review Jarro-Dophilus Women probiotics. In all my research on probiotics, I knew that Jarrow was a good company, but I wanted to see for myself if I liked it. Jarro-Dophilus is the only women's multi-strain probiotic comprised solely of vaginally-derived strains vs. intestinally derived strains. As luck (or fate) would have it, I needed a probiotic specifically for this use. After a month of consistent use taking the suggested maintenance of one capsule per day, I can honestly say that these probiotics are wonderful, and they do work!

One of the things I liked best about this particular probiotic is that it contains four strains called the Astarte strains that are found in the vaginal track of women. Sorry for any men currently reading my blog, but as women let's be honest and talk about how at certain times in our lives, we need a probiotic that specifically targets a healthy vaginal environment (yes, I really just wrote those words on my blog post).

I also really appreciated the fact that no refrigeration is necessary. Another bonus was that the capsule they are encased in is EnteroGuard which is a food-grade, ph-sensitive coating that resists stomach acid and disintegrates in the less acidic pH of the upper intestines ensuring that nearly 100% of the probiotics pass through the stomach unharmed and are released into the intestines intact and read to act.

If you are looking for a good probiotic to use, I highly suggest using Jarro-Dophilus. In addition to the women probiotics, I also received Jarro-Dophilus infant drops, Yum-Yum Dophilus Chewables, and Fem-Dophilus.

I received this product for free from Moms Meet ( to use and post my honest opinions. Compensation for this post was provided and this page may contain affiliate links.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

In The Blink of an Eye {Happy 7th Birthday Xiomara}

Happy 7th birthday to our creative, energetic, loving, joyful, and amazing gymnast Xiomara Marie!

And just like that you are 7! It seems like yesterday we had our last phone call with your birthmama on July 5th, and she told me you were moving around a ton during fireworks on the 4th and that she woke up that morning thinking you had dropped. You weren't supposed to come until August 9th, our anniversary, but instead you came 5 weeks early. Our tiniest baby, and the sweetest gift we ever received. I can't explain it, and I probably never will be able to, but the moment your birthmama placed you in my arms, I fell so deeply in love with you. Your birthmama was brave, and strong, and I'll never forget or stop telling you about the love she had for you. If she were here today sweet girl, she would want you to know how loved you are.

That tiny preemie has grown into a strong, muscular, little girl. I have mixed feelings about measuring your height this year for your birthday, because I can tell you have grown. And if you've grown, that means you are getting further and further away from being my baby girl. As much as I would go back in an instant to those little sweet, gummy smiles, and snuggles while wrapped up close to me, I've really enjoyed watching you grow into the beautiful little girl you are.

This year you were a kindergartner. We didn't send you to school, but instead you stayed home to do school with mama while your sisters went to school. This was a huge change for you, and I'm not sure you liked it one bit. Ever the extrovert, you about died when your introvert mama just wanted to stay home day after day. It took us quite awhile to get into a rhythm where I felt like I got a little break during the day, and you figured out how to play by yourself when not doing school. As for school itself, you loved it! You are smart, and a quick learner. You hated working on your handwriting, but you may have the best handwriting of anyone in our family. You started reading just a bit and you were so proud of yourself for getting each word.

Your real love however, is gymnastics. We are quite certain that you live, breathe, and practically eat gymnastics. You are constantly asking me to watch, take a video, or a picture of your new gymnastics routine. You have a whole drawer full of leos, from play ones, to around the house only ones, to competition leos. You entered competitive gymnastics for the first time ever this year and you loved it. You also kept getting gold medals (along with a few silver and bronze). You went to state gymnastics meet, and while you didn't get a gold medal like you thought you would, you did learn a ton and you had fun. You are crazy talented and we are so proud of you. We've had two different coaches tell us that if you wanted to (and we had the time and money), you could work towards the Olympics. That is still your dream, and while daunting as your parents, we pray that if that is what God has for you, He will clear the path to get there.

Other than your love of gymnastics, two other things always stick out to me when I think of you. One, you love animals! You still tell me that after you are done with the Olympics, you will be a vet. I think that sounds like something you would do very well at. You are kind, gentle, and very good with every animal, but your favorite is Winter our cat. The second thing I've noticed this past year is your creativity. Oh, it can get you in trouble when you cut that skirt into a thousand pieces to make a bikini, or take a hamper lid to create a steering wheel for a car, or you dig in your sisters things to create something, but your creativity never ceases to amaze me. Seriously, daily I'm amazed at the things you create out of nothing (or you know something you aren't supposed to use). By the way, you don't know this yet, but daddy decided to buy you a big roll of tape for your birthday so you stop using ours. He thinks it will be your favorite gift, so you can just create and create some more.

This morning you caught me crying. You said, "Mama are you sad because I'm growing up?". When I told you I was, you came and gave me a big hug! That is the kind of girl you are. You are bursting with energy, and full of joy, but always you show empathy and love. It's a good trait to have baby girl. I pray you never lose that spark, but instead that you use it for good, and that your love shines bright wherever God may lead you in this next year.

In the blink of an eye you turned 7. I love you my sweet girl! As I watched you nap this afternoon, I marveled at your long eyelashes, and curly hair, and once again thanked God for you. You are such a treasure and gift from God. 7 years ago I had no idea how perfectly you would fit into my heart, and I into yours. That your joy was exactly what was missing from our family. That your passion for life was just what we all needed. You are so loved! Happy 7th birthday!

Friday, May 19, 2017

And Then You Were 8 {Happy 8th Birthday Meridian}

Happy 8th Birthday to our sweet with a bit of stubborn, quiet, dancer, love bug, and dreamer Meridian Piper!

I can hardly believe today you are 8! I just keep thinking back to three year old Meridian, with a head full of ringlet curls, always off doing your own thing. Dancing to your own beat even then, playing by yourself, a little dare devil that always kept me on my toes, and doing it all with your sweet little smile. Not much has changed since then, although you aren't much of a dare devil now. But man did you used to scare me as you climbed things you shouldn't, and got into more things than I ever thought possible!

Today those ringlet curls have grown longer, and your fine, curly hair tends to knot up if left alone for even a day. You like to have mama sometimes brush it, but mostly you love to have it braided, and in this house, we all know daddy is the best braider. You have the most unique not quite green, but not quite blue eyes, framed with gorgeous envy-inducing eye lashes. You are beautiful in that take-your-breath-away type of beautiful, and yet you seem to be clueless about how beautiful you are. While your beauty shines on the outside, it is your sweet, humble heart that outshines it all.

This year you went to school for the first time. For the first few weeks you would come home from school mad. You were tired, you were overwhelmed, and you missed your mama. But for you, mad never lasts long and while we see glimpses of stubborn, the sweetness always dominates. This year in school you learned to read. It has been perhaps your greatest challenge, but you are reading. You love math, and anything with art so you can design and dream.

After being in gymnastics last year you decided you maybe didn't want to do that anymore and instead you wanted to be a dancer. You make a beautiful dancer! While I still don't hear much about your dance classes, I catch you from time to time quietly working on your different dance positions. The sweetest is when you put on your little play tutu and dance your way around the house as if no one is watching. You once again were in choir and while you love to sing, I still think you like to be the director more as every concert your mouth barely moves, while your little hands direct at your sides. It makes us giggle every single time we watch you. While you hate practicing piano, you actually love to play and you are a very quick learner.

Everything you do just oozes sweetness. You are often busy in your own world, and I wish I could just get a glimpse of the thoughts going on in your mind. You are quiet, and the perfect balance that I needed between your two spunky sisters. You love to play with Legos and spend hours creating them, sometimes using the instructions, sometimes not, and most of that time we would hardly know you are here. When not playing Legos, you love to play outside with your sisters. It seems like both girls gravitate towards you because you are the calm. I smile every time I hear your little sister say, "Hey Rinnie, want to go play outside with me?". Swimming is a favorite of yours, and often you are the last one out of the pool in a day.

A little snuggler, you seek me out multiple times during the day just to get a hug or give me a kiss. You still love to crawl into our bed sometime in the middle of the night, and I don't have the heart to ever tell you no because this time with you is so short, and before I know it you will think it was weird you ever snuggled between us. Sweet Rinnie Roo, you may be your daddy's little girl, but man have you captivated my heart. We are pretty much different in every single way (except you look just like mama's side of the family just with blonde hair), but I can't help but just love you for who you are. Your little crinkle in your nose when you smile, the way you whisper to yourself as you play, how you always blow me a kiss from your bed every night as I'm leaving your room. Our whole family adores you Miss Meridian.

This morning, I woke up early and at exactly 5:56 a.m., the time of your birth, I looked at the clock and whispered, "And then you were 8, Happy Birthday Rinnie Roo." it's gone faster than I ever thought possible, and so many of my memories are fuzzy from parenting three girls under three. Even many of my pictures of you have one or both of your sisters in it. I pray you never feel like you didn't matter as Meridian in the middle, but instead, I pray you realize how precious you are to us and your sisters. You are the sticky, sweet honey that this whole family needed before we ever realized we needed you, and I thank God every single day that He gave me the privilege of calling you daughter.

I pray as you go into your 8th year you realize what a treasure you are. That you would never feel less than because you are quieter than those around you, but instead that you would know how treasured you are and that being the listener and peacemaker is a gift that draws people to you. Happy 8th birthday!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

10 Years Of Loving You {Happy 10th Birthday Zoelle}

Happy 10th birthday to our ever inquisitive, always talking, piano playing, gymnastics loving, and heart of gold Zoelle Grace.

I've spent 10 years loving you! 10! Today you are double digits. I can hardly believe the girl whose doctor's once told me weren't sure what was going to happen with her heart (with the 3 holes as you like to remind me), is now 10. The girl who could talk in complete sentences at 9 months old, and read fluently at age 3. The one who would go on walks with me everyday and we would watch the scary snort (bulldozer) work on construction sites. The one who couldn't wait to do school with me at home. The one who cried to leave me on her first day of school, and cried on her last saying goodbye to her teacher. Now on the brink of teenage years, but still a little girl.

Sometimes I stare at you with that blonde hair that much to your chagrin just keeps getting curlier (which much to my chagrin you comb those curls out), and those blue eyes the color of the sky, with that sprinkling of freckles placed perfectly across your nose, and I'm in awe. You, perfect you, came from me. You are stunning! As beautiful as you are on the outside, your inside is where your heart of gold is. You care for those who are hurting. Your teachers all tell me if only they had 25 Zoelle's in their classroom, their classrooms would be full of polite, smart, well-behaved, and kind children. Maybe they tell this to all the parents, but I'll just go on believing you are special. Mainly because I know you really are.

You are smart! I'm amazed at everything you know, and how you have a constant thirst to know more. Reading is a love, and I can't seem to ever find a book you haven't read. Probably because most times I look at you, you are reading. When you aren't reading you are playing piano. Always working ahead in your piano books, practically teaching yourself your lessons from week to week. You love to sing and you have a beautiful crystal clear voice. Every once in awhile I catch you practicing violin. It's not that you don't like it, it's just that you took a few years of lessons before joining orchestra and so orchestra seems pretty easy right now. And if there is anything I know about you, it's that you like things that challenge you.

You are athletic! Your love of gymnastics has grown over the year as you entered into a new season of competitive gymnastics. To watch you pour your entire heart, and all your energy into gymnastics was a beautiful thing. I know it's hard sometimes having a younger sister who has a talent in something you love, but Z, I was proud of you! You got over your fears, and you worked amazingly hard at something that didn't come naturally to you.

Everything you do has to be done with your whole heart. It's where your intensity for life is used for good. I know you can't see it yet, but He really does have the best plans for you. I watched it play out 10 years ago when He provided the best doctor to give oxygen to your broken heart right after you were born. You are a complete miracle. Try telling me God won't use your intensity for good, and I will never believe it. He has great plans for you!

You gave me the name Mama, and these past 10 years watching you grow has been the greatest honor of my life. I love you more than you could possibly understand. I know both of us with our intense personalities challenge one another and get on each other's nerves, but I adore you ZoZo. I can already tell that when you are grown, you will be one of my closest friends.

My sweet girl please keep snuggling your mama from time to time. Keep laughing because you have the best laugh of anyone I know. Keep knowing your value comes not in what you accomplish, but who you are in Him.

As you go to sleep today on the eve of your 10th birthday, I'll do what I've done since you were a baby, play with your hair. I can picture you in my arms rocking you to sleep as a baby. I would take my hand and rub it over and over your almost non-existent hair. Over the years, your little hand would reach up, and play with mine. And now it's become our nightly ritual, you come to me and say, "Can I play with your hair before I go to sleep?" and I say, "Only if I can play with yours." and without fail it brings a smile to your face every single time. I hope you never stop asking to play with my hair, and that you never stop letting me play with yours.

I love you girlie! I've spent 10 years loving you, and I can't wait to spend the rest of my life loving you. You are a delight and a joy to me every single day. I pray this birthday is a beautiful one, and that you live this next year realizing how very precious you are! Happy 10th birthday!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

On Your 6th Birthday {A Letter to Xiomara)

Happy 6th golden birthday to our gymnastics loving, animal caring, spunky, joy-filled, and always happy Xiomara!

Six years ago today you were born on a hot Georgia day to your birthmama. Two days after that, your birthmama lovingly placed you into my arms and my life has never been the same since.

One of my friends once described you as all spunk and sassafras. I could not think of a better description for you. Those who know you, know your energy has no bounds. That energy comes from deep inside you and comes out as pure joy. Always happy. Always making others around you smile. What a gift that is. I've probably told your dad a hundred times that life would have been so much different for us had we never adopted you. I would have desperately missed the joy you bring us.

I snuggled you to sleep last night, partly because you were all wound up from the 4th of July, and partly because I know these days are fleeting. I rubbed your back, sighed, and told you to please just go to sleep. In the light of the day, I almost wish I wouldn't have rushed it. Because tomorrow you turn six, and I would give anything to go back to those sweet days of newborn snuggles and little sleep.

It goes too fast sweetheart. One day, God-willing, you will see that for yourself. You are my baby. Most likely my last and this past year I've really had to work through the sadness of being done while not feeling ready to be done. But sometimes, we don't get a choice, but rather life chooses for us. If I could have chose, I would have chose to give you that baby sister that looks just like you that you so want. Or even the baby in my tummy like you have asked for a dozen times. Instead, I didn't get to choose this, but I can choose you. I can choose to cherish these last few "baby" moments with you.

Today as I tucked you in for your nap, I leaned down to kiss you and told you this was your last nap as a 5 year old, and you said, "Does that mean when I turn 6 tomorrow I don't have to nap anymore?", I giggled along with you and said maybe. You are a great nap taker, and your endless energy seems to demand that you rest for a little bit of each day, but maybe you are right and you will be done with naps. Can you maybe be done with your thumbie now too (dentist bills are no fun)?

This year was one of growth in your life. You got taller, and stronger. You have lost six teeth since your first tooth you lost last 4th of July!! Your favorite color is yellow. You love almost all foods, but some vegetables are not your favorite. An extreme extrovert, your idea of a fun day involves lots of activities and people. Performing for others is your thing, and you make sure everyone notices you before you do something. This past year you went from asking me to "load it up", to properly asking me to turn up the radio. Same with asking if daddy could grill supper instead of, "make grill tonight". I'm going to miss that baby talk. You love to sit and do school with me, and this past year you started your first little bits of reading.

Music is a very large part of your life and it is rare for you not to have the music blasting. You love to sing, dance, and perform. Your real love though is gymnastics. You seriously cannot get enough. If you aren't practicing gymnastics (with loud music playing in the background), you are begging to watch Gabby Douglas and Simone Biles, or really anyone on YouTube that you want to learn from. You once told me you had to watch the older kids so you can learn what to do for the Olympics one day. The Olympics are your main goal. You ask me weekly when I'm going to sign you up for them, and I explain again it takes lots of practice and determination and that you have to qualify. You are going to have so many voices (one day maybe even your own) telling you that the Olympics aren't possible, that it is too hard, too much, and the competition is too tough. But I won't be that voice. If you believe you will be winning gold medals in the Olympics, I'll believe right along with you (and I'll be there to cheer you on the day you do). You are gifted honey. Never forget that all glory goes to God for making your body strong and able to do what you can do in gymnastics. I've said from day one that God was going to use your adoption and your story for His glory, and perhaps, just maybe, the Olympics will be a part of that story one day.

When you are done with the Olympics, you tell me you will go to school to be a vet. Which makes sense, because other than gymnastics, you love animals. You are often walking around our yard with a chicken in your arms, or lately because we have baby kitties, a kitten in your hands. You are gentle, kind, and compassionate with them, and I have no doubt you will make a wonderful vet one day...after I watch you in the Olympics as you like to remind me. ;)

I've watched you this past year as you've learned to be brave. From losing your birthmama (whom you loved very much) way too soon, to visiting your birth family that you couldn't remember no matter how hard you tried. You were brave. You were strong. I fell in love with you all over again as I saw you as this gift that God literally hand-picked for me. What a gift you have been!

In the darkness of your room tonight, I glanced over at your sweet little face framed with curls, and whispered, "I'm so thankful to God for you spunky girl! You are a treasure. The best thing that God could have ever given me." You turned to me as you heard the tears in my eyes, and in typical Xiomara fashion, you started kissing me all over to make me giggle.

In the words, of your favorite Daniel Tiger, Ugga Mugga my precious Xiomara Marie. I love you! Happy golden birthday!

Friday, May 27, 2016

When God Calls Me to be Brave


That's the word that kept popping up at me from the most random places. I ignored it at first. In fact, I wanted the word to be new, but instead it seemed as if God had different plans for me.

I avoided writing this very blog post for my 2016 word because I wasn't sure I wanted my word to be brave. Why couldn't God make it new? I mean, after all He is doing a new thing in me. He is making all things new after my tough year last year, right?

But nope, God sometimes works in a totally different way than what we think we want or need. And instead he placed before me this word for 2016: Brave

By it's very definition brave means ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage.

The question remains on why he made this word my word for 2016? In some ways, I know some reasons on why he brought this word to me. I needed to be brave to walk away from an unhealthy situation in my life. I need to be brave in some upcoming big decisions for our family. I need to be brave to know that God will bring a few dreams on my heart into fulfillment.

But I think the biggest way God is calling me to be brave this year is in my mothering. I would never want to minimize those of you who are single mothers. You are amazing, and your brave journey is much harder than mine. Many times I have avoided talking about this with others because of that very reason. But the reality is, I do a good majority of my parenting alone. My husband owns his own business, and I'm so proud of him for it, but the reality is that it does take him away from our family. It used to be just during the spring/summer/fall, but now his business has grown (something we are SO thankful for), and even in the winter he is gone a lot.

And this past year I broke.

The stress of trying to do everything on my own just got to me. I just felt like I couldn't do it on my own anymore. I have one daughter who is a pre-teen, one who needs her daddy all the time, and the other who is a constant bundle of energy. In my mind, I could not be both mama and daddy. There were days when I just could not do it anymore. I was exhausted to my very core. I felt as if all I was, was mama, I wasn't Vanessa anymore. I love being mama, but I wanted a break from that too. My husband got a break every day, so why couldn't I? Why would God ask me to have this responsibility? Why did it feel like if one of my kids chooses a "wrong" path, it is all on my shoulders because I am the one doing 99% of the parenting? How was it fair for me to feel so alone in this parenting journey?

Basically, I had a good pity party. And if I'm honest, I still have days like that. I am tired. I really do wish sometimes that my husband had a 9-5 job so he can be more present in parenting. I'm lonely. Having a husband who works all the time, leaves very little "me" time, or even time for us to be together.

It was during this pity party that God first showed me the word brave. Oddly enough it came to me in an airport while traveling on my way home from visiting a friend. The word brave was right there in front of me. I remember staring at it and thinking that is not me. I'm not brave. I don't ride roller coasters because heights scare me. I don't just pack my family up and move to a foreign country to be a missionary because I married a very steady man who has not been called to that. I have never gotten a tattoo even though I know exactly what I want, because I am afraid of the pain. As a teenager, I bridge jumped once. But it was only after sitting on the side of the bridge for two hours while my sister desperately tried to convince me to jump in.

Brave is not a word to describe me.

Yet God has spent these last five months whispering it over my heart. Reminding me in so many little ways that I am brave, or that I can be.

I'm learning that sometimes, being brave looks so different than what I thought it would. I thought being brave in this time in my life would mean that God would wave His magic wand and make all things right. He would rescue me from feeling overwhelmed and somehow change my situation. Instead, I'm finding myself being drawn out into the waves just as the song, "You Make Me Brave" says:

"You make me brave. You make me brave. You call me out beyond the shore into the waves."

Umm, hello God?!? I don't really know anyone who wants to be called out into big waves. Well, except surfers, and as much as I think surfing looks fun, it scares me. But here I stand, being called out into some big waves. Being asked to be brave in this time.

And do you know what I'm slowly learning while being brave? I'm learning this: God loves me. He really does. He is here with me in this hard place. He knows exactly what I need in this time, and He will bring me through it.

"As your love, in wave after wave, crashes over me, crashes over me. For you are for us, you are not against us. Champion of heaven, you made a way for all to enter in."

I'd like to say with 100% certainty as I post this that I am now brave and can trust God with what is to come in this area of my life, but reality is, I can't. I have no idea what brave will look like. And that scares me. I do know that tomorrow a part of my brave journey starts as my youngest daughter and I get on a plane to visit her first family. Something that both excites me and scares me as her mama who just desires to protect her little heart. The good news is, I feel like this word is for all of 2016, and while that scares me a bit in that I just want God to take care of everything now, I know that at the end of 2016, I'll see God's hand in my life and I'll be able to see exactly how He made me brave this past year.

"She knew she could be brave because she was His." ~Isaiah 43:1

Monday, May 23, 2016

Kabrita {Review}

As a mama who breastfed all three of her kids, but then had supply issues with my third daughter, I was very interested to learn about Kabrita premium goat milk formula. Moms Meet recently sent me some to try. What I loved most about it, is that it is free from antibiotics, growth hormones, preservatives, artificial colors, and flavors. I also loved that it is GMO free and that the goats graze naturally on fresh grass. Even though I don't have any children that are currently formula feeding, I would definitely keep this in mind for friends who are formula feeding. While we did not test it, we did give our sample away and were told that it had a sweet, fresh taste and most importantly didn't smell like some formulas tend to do. ;) If you are interested in trying your own samples, make sure to visit this link.

In addition to the goat milk formula, we were given three Kabrita Goat Milk Yogurt and Fruit squeezable packs. My girls are always begging me to buy the squeeze fruit and veggie packs every time we go to Target, so I was excited to give these a try. We received banana and natural vanilla bean with pear, mango peach with apple and pear, and mixed berry with apple and pear. These were a HUGE hit at our house! I think we all agreed our favorite flavor was the banana and natural vanilla bean. What I liked best about these is that there was no added sugar, no aritifical colors, flavors or preservatives. In addition to this they are in BPA-free packaging and are Non-GMO verified. These would be a definite must buy at our house if I was looking to replace current squeezable packs.

To connect with Kabrita online, be sure to check out their Facebook page. You can receive 20% off Kabrita products on by using the code MM2016. Hurry, offer ends June 30, 2016.

*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.